The “region”—understood in terms of the linguistically organized states—has been one of the central categories around which debates about cultural politics in India have been organized in the last two decades. This article argues that within this scholarship, the “region” has figured as a mirror of the nation, either as continuing from the impulses of the nation or as a response to it. Contra this, it proposes that “region” should be understood as being formed simultaneously within and without the structuring of the nation. Even while the horizon of universality provided by the nation to its subjects presents the figure of the “citizen” as its teleology, nonnational resources are mobilized to configure the subject of the region. Rather than a historical development, this performative subject, who works with multiple horizons of universality, is foundational to the formation of the region. This article, using two Malayalam language films from the South Indian state of Kerala, Arabikatha (Arabian Tale) and 16 MM: Memories, Movement and a Machine, attempts to think through how mistranslation of the “world” is central to the formation of the regional subject.

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