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University of Puget Sound

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

India: National Identity and the Arts


What began as a general inquiry into the nature of nationalism in the paintings of “the Bengal School” turned into a project focused on tracing the pulse of nationalism between two distinct yet related groups in Bengal roughly between the years 1895 and 1920. The bulk of this paper deals with existing scholarship on the painter Abanindranath Tagore, whose name is most often mentioned in the discourse regarding nationalism and painting in Bengal; in addressing this scholarship, I deliver a critical analysis on the relationship between Abanindranath, his paintings, and the idea of nationalism. I then follow that discussion with a treatment of Rabindranath Tagore and his relationship with the swadeshi movement in Bengal during the first decade of the twentieth century, and his unique path of patriotic discourse that came after the fervor of Abanindranath’s art movement fizzled away. In my conclusion, I offer a final analysis of Rabindranath and Abanindranath’s “nationalisms.”


Arts and Humanities | Asian Studies | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change


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