This volume explores how difference is constructed, manifested, mobilised and obscured in socially uneven societies, particularly those fuelled by neoliberal economic growth in the recent years.
The book approaches difference as a double edgedconcept that allows one to make sense of the tensions that are played out between cosmopolitan convergence and multicultural diversity, between expanding middle classes and increasingly disenfranchised poor groups, between the global and the local. The chapters in this volume present a series of empirical explorations of how difference is articulated, desired, levelled, governed and even subverted in the socio-economically uneven landscapes of India and China. They examine how difference emerges out of daily practice, categorisation processes, dividing practices, nation building efforts and identity projects.
Through these empirical studies, we see how difference is articulated along a number of axes: differentiations of groups or persons according to hierarchies of superiority/inferiority; the demarcation of difference as something that is potentially disruptive and therefore in need of containment; the celebration of difference as diversity, and finally, the ways in which difference comes to be internalised in the shaping of individual identities. Another common theme that binds a number of contributions is the exploration of the role of the state in constructing and controlling these differences, and the ways in which these interventions rearrange the social-political landscapes.
This book was published as a special issue of Third World Quarterly.
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