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Volume 1 Issue 1

June 2014

Fusing Football and Nationalism - A Study of Moti Nandi's Striker and Stopper
Ms. Sonali, 
Centre for English Studies, 
Jawaharlal Nehru University, 
New Delhi, Delhi, India
Colonialism, right from its inception has employed diverse means of legitimizing itself. Sports in general and football in particular have served as “idioms for discursive construction” of the British rule in India. Football, as introduced by the British, while harping on the physical inferiority of the Indian body vis-à-vis the superiority of its European counterpart, tried highlighting the inadequacy of the average Indian populace. However, at the hands of the colonial subjects, it also became a means of fighting back. In 1911, Mohun Bagan’s winning the IFA Shield not only united the whole Bengali community, but also challenged the so-far constructed image of them as a race of weak and effeminate babus. However, after independence, this “sporting nationalism” got replaced by “unfortunate fragmentation”, wherein regional and communal affiliation transcended the national. This fragmentation became all the more pronounced in the following decades with the failure of the state apparatuses, labour strifes, student conflicts, state repression, etc., and reached its peak in the seventies when the war of independence in neighbouring Bangladesh brought a major influx of refugees to Calcutta. It was at this socio-historical juncture that the sport narrative with the theme of an underdog winning against all odds appeared with the publication of Moti Nandi’s Striker (1973), closely followed by his Stopper (1974). The blistered cityscape found its representation in the tussle between the football ground where corruption ran rampant and the individual who was trying hard to make his living out of it. In this paper, I will attempt to bring out how these two novels try to become vectors of bringing forward the myth of the underdog hero trying to consolidate the conflicting spaces in a charged climate of antagonism, where anti-colonial nationalism gave way to both regional and religious communalism as the populace fought over the spoils of decolonization.
Colonialism; Nationalism; Moti Nandi; Striker; Stopper; Sports Fiction
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