ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Transnationalising of the Telangana movement: Diasporic mobilization and the gradient reordering of the social through Development


Roohi Sanam - University of Göttingen, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen, Germany


30- Creative and social engagement with conflict: a perspective from the South Asian Diaspora


 In June 2014, the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, was bifurcated and a new state of Telangana was carved from it – seen a successful culmination of a long-standing that gained momentum in the late 1960s as a student led movement. By 1998, the agitation became transnational when a few high skilled diasporic members from the Telangana region domiciled in the US found a common cause with their brethren ‘back home’. This paper examines the socio-political imaginaries of development of the the Telangana gadda that animated the movement from afar. Initially assuming the role of agents endowed with the capacity to mitigate some of the political inertia around the sluggish movement, by 2011-12 when the movement become widespread, the expanding group of the movement’s diasporic supporters redefined their terms of political participation, pitching it as one situated in the interstices of political pragmatism and emotional idealism. After the state’s creation, several diasporic supporters used the moral and ethical parlance of righting historical injustices meted out to Telangana by ‘bringing development’, either on their own or in cooperation with the newly formed state bodies. Pairing historical analysis with multi-sited ethnography, this paper untangles how this developmental vision espoused by the diaspora is threatened by a universalizing gradient imaginary that reorders the self, caste and the nation, engendering possibilities of violence and exclusion of the Dalits and Muslims.