Roluahpuia, Nationalism in the Vernacular: State, Tribes, andthe Politics of Peace in Northeast India, Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2023
Reviewed by George Chakma
Isaiah Berlin, one of the finest historians of ideas, on nationalism once wrote: ‘‘There was one movement which dominated much of the nineteenth century in Europe and was so pervasive, so familiar, that it is only by a conscious effort of the imagination that one can conceive a world in which it played no part: It had its partisans and its enemies, its democratic, its, aristocratic, and monarchist wings, it inspired men of action and artists, intellectual elites and the masses…’’ (Berlin, 1968, p. 337). Of course, Berlin was specifically talking about the European condition, but nationalism as a socio-cultural-political phenomenon has taken shape in almost every nook and corner of the world. Berlin’s comments succinctly describe the nature of nationalism and the role it plays in shaping modern polities and identities. The northeastern region of India has been no exception. The winds of modernity have caused (sub?) nationalist groups here as well to ideate their respective poetics and sensibilities of national identity and nationalist politics. The case of Mizo nationalism presents to us as one of the textbook examples of modern invention of a national identity and the playing out of nationalist politics, yet it has not grabbed the attention of many scholars. Roluahpuia’s book ‘‘Nationalism in the vernacular: state, tribes, and the politics of peace in northeast India’’ is a timely intervention that has the potential to become a seminal work.