Eric Hobsbawm in the introduction to Nations and Nationalism since 1780 notes that although the idea of nationalism is constructed chiefly from above, it needs to be studied from below as this is where it takes root and is most powerful and capricious. Shail Mayaram’s new book The Secret Life of anOther Indian Nationalism: Transitions from the Pax Britannica to the Pax Americana is a sincere attempt in this direction.
An important aim of the book is to understand the ways in which vernacular nationalism got transformed into hyper-masculine Hindu nationalism. Mayaram investigates this problem from the perspective of the local population of Merwara region of Rajasthan. Importantly, she investigates this problem against the backdrop of the global shift from Pax Britannica to Pax Americana. The diverse ways in which this global phenomenon influenced the making of exclusive nationalism at the local level is an issue that this book discusses at length.