Are new ideas needed to disentangle the uses and abuses of the idea of civil society both in South Asia and beyond? This book seeks to explore this question by reviewing the debate on civil society mainly in India but also in Pakistan.
Civil society is a term that has a rich history in European political and social thought since the 17th century. Yet it has also become shorthand either for groups who place themselves in opposition to state elites or for non- governmental organizations that initiate, often in partnership with international agencies, programmes of economic and social development that to a greater or lesser extent are distanced from the state. The purpose of this collection of essays, initially presented at a seminar in 2018 in Hyderabad in South India, is to explore these disconnects and to see if concepts of civil society can be developed that go with the grain of South Asia’s political and historical experience. Some of the chapters in this edited volume focus specifically on theoretical dimensions, while others take case studies from India and Pakistan.
The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Civil Society.
Introduction: Civil Society in South Asia
David Taylor and Heewon Kim
1. Does a plural civil society matter? Reflecting on the varieties of associational life in India
2. Partha Chatterjee’s concepts of civil society and ‘uncivil’ political society: Is the distinction valid?
3. Civil society in Bengal: The postcolonial conundrum
4. Catholics, caste and citizenship: Engagements in civil society
5. Community organizations and educational development among Muslims: Lessons from the ‘Kerala Experience’
Mohd. Sanjeer Alam
6. Building language, building province: Civil society and ethnic nationalism in Pakistan