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Even as historical studies of the conceptualisation of the region in Tamil Nadu invariably trace it back to the early Dravidian movement, ‘region’ is seen as peripheral to Periyar’s radical anti-caste thought in existing scholarship. This flows from both a limited focus on the spatial aspects of Periyar’s thought and a narrow conceptualisation of space itself. Diverging from the dominant physicalist view of space, this article views Periyar’s politics of space as a radical attempt to subvert the cultural logic of hegemonic nationalism that sustained caste and its privileges through modernity. Outlining Periyar’s criticism of the nation as a ‘dominated space’, it explores Periyar’s conception of Dravida Nadu as an ‘appropriated space’ that attempted to further the pursuit of self-respect as a rationally conceived regional utopia. By doing so, the article tries to contextualise Periyar’s spatial thought not as secondary to his anti-caste politics but as its fullest expression.
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