The Politics of Self-Expression: The Urdu Middleclass Milieu in Mid-Twentieth Century India and Pakistan, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Politics of Self-Expression

The Urdu Middleclass Milieu in Mid-Twentieth Century India and Pakistan, 1st Edition

By Markus Daechsel


252 pages

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The 1930s to 1950s witnessed the rise and dominance of a political culture across much of North India which combined unprecedented levels of mobilization and organization with an effective de-politicization of politics. On the one hand obsessed with world events, people also came to understand politics as a question of personal morality and achievement. In other words, politics was about expressing the self in new ways and about finding and securing an imaginary home in a fast-moving and often terrifying universe. The scope and arguments of this book make an innovative contribution to the historiography of modern South Asia, by focusing on the middle-class milieu which was the epicentre of this new political culture.


'Daechsel's study is a deeply thoughtful and rich one, with interesting readings of Urdu sources, and a sophisticated, intriguing argument. His book is an important intervention in the growing work on the politics of selfhood in South Asia, in an interdisciplinary style which admirably suits the complexity of its subject matter and themes' - Javed Majeed, Queen Mary, University of London

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Urbanization, Bureaucratization and the Emergence of a Middle-Class Milieu 2. New Sign Objects and New Identities 3. Consumption and Romantic Sentimentalism 4. Authenticity, Power and the Magic of Objects 5. The Political Culture of Radical Self-Expression in its Time Period. Conclusion

About the Author

Markus Daechsel has studied history and political science at the University of Erlangen and the University of London. He is currently a lecturer in South Asian History at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests focus on the society, culture and politics of South Asian Muslims.

About the Series

Royal Asiatic Society Books

The Royal Asiatic Society was founded in 1823 ‘for the investigation of subjects connected with, and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to, Asia’. Informed by these goals, the policy of the Society’s Editorial Board is to make available in appropriate formats the results of original research in the humanities and social sciences having to do with Asia, defined in the broadest geographical and cultural sense and up to the present day.

Editorial Board:
Professor Francis Robinson, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK (Chair); Professor Tim Barrett, SOAS, University of London, UK; Dr Evrim Binbaş, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK; Professor Anna Contadini, SOAS, University of London, UK; Professor Michael Feener, National University of Singapore; Dr Gordon Johnson, University of Cambridge, UK; Professor David Morgan, University of Wisconsin–Madison, US; Dr. BMC Brend; Dr. R. Llewellyn Jones MBE

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General