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Kalki’s Avatars: writing nation, history, region, and culture in the Tamil Public Sphere
Ramnarayan, Akhila

2006, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, English.
Challenging the English-only bias in postcolonial theory and literary criticism, this dissertation investigates the role of the twentieth-century Tamil historical romance in the formation of Indian and Tamil identity in the colonial period. I argue that Tamil Indian writer-nationalist Kalki Ra. Krsnamurti’s (1899-1954) 1944 Civakamiyin Capatam (Civakami’s Vow)—chronicling the ill-fated wartime romance of Pallava king Narasimhavarman (630-668 CE) and fictional court dancer Civakami against the backdrop of the seventh-century Pallava-Chalukya wars—exemplifies a distinct genre of interventionist literature in the Indian subcontinent. In Kalki’s hands, the vernacular novel became a means by which to infiltrate the colonial imaginary and, at the same time, to envision a Tamil India untainted by colonial presence. Charting the generic transformation of the historical romance in the Tamil instance, my study provides 1) a refutation of the inflationary and overweening claims made in postcolonial studies about South Asian nationalism, 2) a questioning of naïve binaries such as local and global, cosmopolitan and vernacular, universal and particular, traditional and modern, in examining the colonial/postcolonial transaction, and 3) a case for a less grandiose and more carefully historicized account of bourgeois nationalism than has previously been provided by postcolonial critics, accounting for its complicities with and resistances to discourses of nation, region, caste, and gender in the late colonial context. Looking out from a specific historical, political, linguistic, and cultural location, I hope to generate ethical, context-sensitive analyses of South Asian nationalisms (in this study’s case, Tamil) as persisting and protean global formations sensitive to local and global networks of influence.
Chadwick Allen (Advisor)
Debra Moddelmog (Other)
234 p.

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Ramnarayan, A. (2006). Kalki’s Avatars: writing nation, history, region, and culture in the Tamil Public Sphere. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Ramnarayan, Akhila. "Kalki’s Avatars: writing nation, history, region, and culture in the Tamil Public Sphere." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2006. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 23 Oct 2017.

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Ramnarayan, Akhila "Kalki’s Avatars: writing nation, history, region, and culture in the Tamil Public Sphere." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2006. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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