Schooling Passions is an anthropological work that explores the everyday production of local, regional, and national senses of belonging in the elementary schools in the locality of Kolhapur near the southern boundary of the state of Maharashtra, India. Kolhapur was an independent kingdom until 1949 and traces its origin to Shivaji Bhosale, a seventeenth-century hero-warrior who founded the Marathi nation. Equipped with a knowledge of Marathi and significant expertise in nationalism, citizenship, education, and gender, Véronique Benei conducted fieldwork at five schools in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the expectation that education would be less nationalistic there than elsewhere in India owing to its distinctive heritage. She instead found that a sense of regional belonging served as the pillar on which a sense of attachment to the nation stood. Her focus is on banal nationalism, the everyday acts that create and reinforce loyalty to the nation. She necessarily keeps the subject of her work from the teachers, pupils, and parents she observes to avoid artificially provoking such acts. Though much attention is paid to the content of these everyday expressions of nationalism and pupils’ reception of that content, the real focus is on the form that its presentation took. Benei works quite successfully to recover “the emotional and embodied production of the political” (p. 5). In this theoretical framework, pedagogical content and form are inseparably intertwined; indeed, regarding young children, the form takes precedence.

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Copyright © 2011 H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. This article first published on H-Education (February 2011).

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