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Ashis Nandy and the Cultural Politics of Selfhood

Ashis Nandy and the Cultural Politics of Selfhood

First Edition
Critical Acclaim

April 2013 | 280 pages | SAGE India
Ashis Nandy and the Cultural Politics of Selfhood gives the reader an insight into a novel aspect of Nandy. The author insists that Ashis Nandy is not merely a self-described political psychologist; he is also an intellectual street fighter who comes face to face with the psychology of politics and the politics of psychology, thus affirming why this intellectual is one of the most original and confronting Indian thinkers of his generation.

The main features of this book are its original reading and the authentic use of the psychoanalytic theory to characterise and demonstrate the importance of psychoanalysis in Nandy's work. This innovative reading of Nandy's psychoanalytic approach is explored through his writings on secularism and the rise of Hindu fundamentalism, before looking at how this also operates in The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialsim (1983) Nandy's best-known book, and across his work more broadly. In doing so the author details the way Nandy confronts his own postcolonial identity and the complexities of the cultural politics of selfhood as a feature of his approach, an arresting and confronting task that can have a disarming effect. It affirms Nandy's significance as a contemporary chronicler whose social and political criticism resonates beyond India.


Introduction: Intellectual Streetfighting-From the Symptomatic to the Psychotherapeutic

The Pathologies of Secularism

Containing Indianness: Secularism versus Hindutva?

The Conceptual Battleground of Anti-Secularism and Culturalism

Critique at the Threshold of Politics

Revolt and the Role of the Critic

The Psychotherapeutic as a Mode of Social Criticism

Conclusion: Re-imaginings in the Cultural Politics of Selfhood



A great starting point for those grappling with Nandy’s vast corpus for the first is not easy to collate and coalesce all the divergent strands of Nandy’s explosively anti-secular, anti-modern philosophy, yet Deftereos handles them beautifully, pinning and unpinning each of the threads from and within a larger spool of the ungovernable ‘ Nandysims’ 
Millennium Post

A commendable job of taking on Ashish Nandy, one of the most confrontational and incendiary of Indian political scientists and also presenting a balanced and intuitively agreeable assessment of his intellectual works...the book is definitely not for common man, but the follower of politics or rather the psychology of politics at the discussion level is of an esoteric nature.
The Financial Express

The book has taken a totally different approach from other critiques of Nandy’s work to deepen our understanding of Nandy.

The Telegraph

[It is an] exceedingly well written book on Nandy’s lifelong engagement with cultural politics of selfhood, a work that is expository and scholarly at the same time.... An extremely readable book, likely to have a very special appeal for those who have been tracking Ashis Nandy’s work for long.

The Tribune, 19 January 2014