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Hindi Is Our Ground, English Is Our Sky

Education, Language, and Social Class in Contemporary India

Chaise LaDousa
Foreword by Krishna Kumar

236 pages, 16 illus., 2 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-232-4 $120.00/£75.00 Hb Published (January 2014)

ISBN  978-1-78533-211-1 $29.95/£18.50 Pb Not Yet Published (April 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78238-233-1 eBook

Hb Pb
  Recommend to your Library

“The painstaking, thorough study presented in this book comfortably straddles disciplinary boundaries. Judicious and imaginative selection of material and methods drawn from social anthropology and linguistics enables LaDousa to take readers to the intersection of ideology, status, and education. They stay long enough at this intersection to get over the emotive illusion of the term ‘mother tongue.’”  ·  SirReadaLot

This book conveys a highly nuanced and sophisticated analysis of the relationships among language, language ideology, schooling, and globalization in India… The author draws creatively on fieldwork experiences that stretch across considerable time and space.”  ·  Peter Demerath, University of Minnesota

This book provides an excellent discussion of education, language, and social class in contemporary India... Informed by research in linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, and applied linguistics, it attempts to unravel the sociolinguistic complexity of language and class in India by examining the realities and ideologies surrounding one of the most profound divisions in Indian social life today: English-medium vs. Hindi-medium education.  [It] will make a significant contribution to diverse disciplines engaged in the study of language and society… The writing, both engaging and accessible, is sure to capture the attention of students and scholars across academic levels.”  ·  Kira Hall, University of Colorado, Boulder

A sea change has occurred in the Indian economy in the last three decades, spurring the desire to learn English. Most scholars and media venues have focused on English exclusively for its ties to processes of globalization and the rise of new employment opportunities.  The pursuit of class mobility, however, involves Hindi as much as English in the vast Hindi-Belt of northern India.  Schools are institutions on which class mobility depends, and they are divided by Hindi and English in the rubric of “medium,” the primary language of pedagogy. This book demonstrates that the school division allows for different visions of what it means to belong to the nation and what is central and peripheral in the nation. It also shows how the language-medium division reverberates unevenly and unequally through the nation, and that schools illustrate the tensions brought on by economic liberalization and middle-class status.

Chaise LaDousa is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.  His publications include House Signs and Collegiate Fun: Sex, Race, and Faith in a College Town (Indiana University Press, 2011) and articles in a number of peer-reviewed journals such as American Ethnologist, Journal of American Folklore, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Journal of Pragmatics, and Language in Society.

LC: LC315.I4 L33 2014

BL: YC.2014.a.3628

BISAC: EDU040000 EDUCATION/Philosophy & Social Aspects; EDU034000 EDUCATION/Educational Policy & Reform/General; SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/Cultural

BIC: JN Education; JHMC Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography


List of Figures and Tables

by Krishna Kumar

List of Abbreviations
Transliteration Conventions
Transcription Conventions


Chapter 1. On Mother and Other Tongues: Language Ideology, Inequality, and Contradiction
Chapter 2. Disparate Markets: The Uneven Resonance of Language-Medium Schooling in the Nation
Chapter 3. Advertising in the Periphery: Modes of Communication and the Production of School Value
Chapter 4. An Alter Voice: Questioning the Inevitability of the Language-Medium Divide
Chapter 5. In and out of the Classroom: A Focus on English



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