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Identity, war and the state in India : the case of the Nagas

Franke, Marcus


Marcus Franke


Gurharpal Singh


This thesis is a political history of the Nagas of the Naga hills, from the 1820s to the 1960s. By drawing on a wealth of primary sources unutilised hithero, and an extensive contextualisation with comparative and theoretical literature, it seeks to render the respective agents' actions meaningful and thus challenges the established historiography in three periods - pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial.

While imperialist historiography of the pre-colonial period still predominates, and made the Nagas responsible for their own subjugation, this work shows that the logic of the British empire made it poised for conquest. Subsequently the colonial rulers were able to blame the vicissitudes of Naga society on the Nagas themselves. This thesis offers an alternative version of the Naga hill region as home to a plethora of polities conscious of the superior power of their plains' neighbours.

While social science' writings tend to blame colonialism for post-colonial identities and wars, here it is demonstrated that agency and identity-formation are an on-going process and neither started nor ended with colonialism. Although the interaction of the local population with colonialism produced a Naga national elite, it was the Indian political class that came into existence the same way which succeeded in, having access to superior means of nation and state-building so as to enable it undertake the modem Indo-Naga war. And it was this war that firmly made the Nagas into a "nation" - setting them onto the road to independence. This work fundamentally revises our understanding of the existing "histories" of the Nagas by exposing them as ahistorical - consciously or unconsciously - influenced by colonial or post-colonial narratives of domination.


Franke, M. (2004). Identity, war and the state in India : the case of the Nagas. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 22, 2015
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Politics
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Politics, The University of Hull
Award Date Dec 1, 2004


Thesis (17.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2004 Franke, Marcus. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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