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Showing posts from 2009

THE CASTE QUESTION NEVER FAILS TO CREATE A ROW

Anupama Rao The Caste Question Dalits and the Politics of Modern India This innovative work of historical anthropology explores how India's Dalits, or ex-untouchables, transformed themselves from stigmatized subjects into citizens. Anupama Rao’s account challenges standard thinking on caste as either a vestige of precolonial society or an artifact of colonial governance. Focusing on western India in the colonial and postcolonial periods, she shines a light on South Asian historiography and on ongoing caste discrimination, to show how persons without rights came to possess them and how Dalit struggles led to the transformation of such terms of colonial liberalism as rights, equality, and personhood. Extending into the present, the ethnographic analyses of The Caste Question reveal the dynamics of an Indian democracy distinguished not by overcoming caste, but by new forms of violence and new means of regulating caste. “Anupama Rao has written a powerful book on caste,

FROM THE EDITORS, IN RANIKHET

Sunset view of Trishul (extreme left) and Nanda Devi (extreme right) from the Permanent Black office, Ranikhet Thought-provoking signboard at golf course, Ranikhet THIS BLOGSPOT HAS BEEN AROUND FOR ABOUT TWO YEARS, and Permanent Black for TEN. Over these years we've published 300+ books, hardbacks and paperbacks combined. The list speaks for itself, its high quality is internationally recognized. Permanent Black was recently chosen by the University of California Press at Berkeley, Chicago University Press, and Columbia University Press, to be the South Asia copublisher of their collective new series titled 'South Asia Across Disciplines' (General Editors: Sheldon Pollock, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Sanjay Subrahmany am)

SCHOLARLY SANITY ON A MAJOR AREA OF INDIAN WORRY

IRFAN AHMAD Islamism and Democracy in India The Transformation of Jamaat-e-Islami Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is the most influential Islamist organization in India today. Founded in 1941 by Syed Abul Ala Maududi with the aim of spreading Islamic values in the subcontinent, Jamaat and its offshoot, the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), has been watched closely by Indian security services since 9/11. In particular, SIMI has been accused of being behind terrorist bombings. Islamism and Democracy in India is the first in-depth examination of India’s Jamaat-e-Islami and SIMI. It explores political Islam’s complex relationship with democracy and gives us a rare window into one immensely significant Islamic trajectory in a Muslim-minority context. Irfan Ahmad conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork at a school in Aligarh, among student activists at Aligarh Muslim University, at a madrasa in Azamgarh, and during Jamaat’s participation in elections in 2002. He deftly traces Jama

THE ANTECEDENTS OF MEDHA PATKAR AND THE NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN

RAJENDRA VORA The World’s First Anti-Dam Movement The Mulshi Satyagraha 1920–1924 During the time of contemporary India’s most famous anti-dam movement, the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a professor of politics in Pune, Rajendra Vora, wrote a study in Marathi of that movement’s forgotten predecessor. Back in the 1920s, the peasants of Mulshi Peta, near Pune, had protested against the construction of a dam being built with government support by the industrial house of the Tatas. The struggle was led by Pandurang Mahadev ('Senapati') Bapat, a socialist and nationalist who had been educated in England. Like Medha Patkar of the Narmada Andolan, Bapat was a leader of much charisma and courage. Like her, he identified completely with the peasants who fought to save their ancestral lands from being submerged. In 1995, Rajendra Vora's book on the Mulshi Satyagraha won the prestigious G.H. Deshmukh award of the Pune Sahitya Parishad. Vora was then persuaded to write an English

THE TIMES OF HINDUSTANI: Bharatendu to Manto, via Premchand

SHOBNA NIJHAWAN, EDITOR Nationalism in the Vernacular Hindi, Urdu, and the Literature of Indian Freedom with Introductions by Vasudha Dalmia and Christopher Shackle This anthology comprises a selection of formative literary writings in Hindi and Urdu from the second half of the nineteenth century, leading up to Indian Independence and the creation of Pakistan. The texts here are mostly hitherto unpublished translations into English. The anthology provides a picture of how nationalism—as a cultural ideology and political movement—was formed in literature. Unlike other anthologies, this one focuses on writings in two North Indian vernaculars with a contested relationship: Hindi and Urdu. The combination is deliberate: the relationship of Hindi and Urdu was being consolidated and sealed even as these texts were being written. There are two separate Introductions to this anthology. Each grounds, respectively, the peculiar paths taken by Hindi and Urdu proponents and practi

Finally Arriving and Soon to be Seen: The Siberian Crane of Indian Political Analysis

SUDIPTA KAVIRAJ The Imaginary Institution of India Politics and Ideas Sudipta Kaviraj has long been recognized as among India’s most thoughtful and wide-ranging political thinkers and analysts, and one of the subtlest and most learned writers on Indian politics in recent times. Paradoxically, this has remained something of a state secret, because Kaviraj’s writings on these subjects have remained scattered in learned journals, many of which remain difficult to access. So the present volume fills a most important gap in the literature on politics and political thought in South Asia. Among Kaviraj’s many strengths is his quite exceptional ability to position Indian politics within the frameworks of political philosophy in the West alongside perspectives from Indian history and indigenous political thought. The writings collected here range over a wide terrain, including studies of the peculiar nature of Indian democracy; the specificities of the regimes of Jawaharlal Nehru a

ROLL OVER, TOLSTOY!

War and Peace in Modern India A Strategic History of the Nehru Yea r s Srinath Raghavan During his seventeen years as prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru led India through one of its most difficult and potentially explosive periods in international affairs. As the leader of a new state created amidst the bloodiest partition in history, saddled with new and outstanding problems, Nehru was confronted with a range of disputes which threatened to boil over. Srinath Raghavan draws on a rich vein of untapped documents to illuminate Nehru’s approach to war and his efforts for peace. Vividly recreating the intellectual and political milieu of the Indian foreign policy establishment, he explains the response of Nehru and his top advisors to the tensions with Junagadh, Hyderabad, Pakistan, and China. He gives individual attention to every conflict and shows how strategic decisions for each crisis came to be defined in the light of the preceding ones. The book follows Nehru as he wrestles with a

HINDI WRITING IN SHUDDH ENGLISH

Francesca Orsini Print and Pleasure Popular Literature and Entertaining Fictions in Colonial North India Print and Pleasure tells the story behind the boom in commercial publishing in nineteenth-century North India. How did the new technology of printing and the enterprise of Indian publishers make the book a familiar object and a necessary part of people’s leisure in a largely illiterate society? What genres became popular in print? Who read them and how were they read? Our perception of North Indian culture in this period has been dominated by the notion of a competition between Hindi and Urdu, and the growth of language nationalism. Print and Pleasure argues that many other forces were also at work which, in the pursuit of commercial interests, spread quite different and much more hybrid tastes. The importance of this major new book lies in showing, moreover, that book history can greatly enrich our understanding of literary and cultural history. Francesca Orsini mi

Eminent American Scholar on Women and Islam in India

GAIL MINAULT Gender, Language, and Learning Essays in Indo-Muslim Cultural History Gender, Language and Learning is a collection of articles, published over the last thirty and more years, by a scholar who is among the most eminent Americans ever to have studied the history, life, and culture of Indian Muslims. The essays are made available together in this book for the first time. The themes that have characterized Gail Minault’s scholarship are all in evidence here: Indian Muslim women’s rights and self-expression, Urdu as a language of cultural politics and identity, and education as a vehicle of social change among Indian Muslims. Also included is her well-known and frequently cited essay (coauthored with David Lelyveld) on the campaign for Aligarh Muslim University. This volume will be invaluable for anyone interested in the development and trajectories of Islam in South Asia. GAIL MINAULT is Professor of History and Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin

RAMACHANDRA GUHA'S CLASSIC WORK IN NEW EDITION

RAMACHANDRA GUHA The Unquiet Woods (Twentieth Anniversary Edition) Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya Popular initiatives to halt deforestation in the Himalaya, such as the Chipko movement, are globally renowned. It is less well known that these movements have a history stretching back more than a hundred years. A proper understanding of this long duration within the forests of submontane North India required the marriage of two scholarly traditions: the sociology of peasant protest and the ecologically oriented study of history. Twenty years ago there appeared on this subject an unknown author’s first book: The Unquiet Woods (1989) by Ramachandra Guha. Fairly quickly, the book came to be recognized as not just another study of dissenting peasants but as something of a classic which had willy nilly opened up a whole new field— environmental history in South Asia. While the monograph has as a consequence been continuously in print within India and in th

PAPERBACKING THE RENAISSANCE

THE BENGAL RENAISSANCE Identity and Creativity from Rammohun Roy to Rabindranath Tagore Subrata Dasgupta Scholars have long debated the very idea of a ‘Bengal Renaissance’. Their controversies have dwelt almost entirely over whether there was anything like a ‘renaissance’ at all, and its significance or otherwise from social, political, and cultural perspectives. This book addresses the issue from a very different framework. Subrata Dasgupta—an eminent scientist and author of a highly regarded intellectual biography of the scientist Jagadis Chandra Bose—approaches the topic from the perspective of philosophy of science and the psychology of creativity. His intention is to show that the phenomenon of the Bengal Renaissance is characterized by a certain collective cognitive identity, which had its roots in the work of the British Orientalists, beginning with William Jones, and which took form amidst a small but remarkable community of highly creative individuals in nineteen

NOW IN PAPERBACK

FOOTLOOSE IN THE HIMALAYA by Bill Aitken Away from over-used tourist trails and trekking routes, Bill Aitken wanders through the Himalaya. His inclination is to enter disused colonial dak bungalows and ruined temples, meander in wild glades above the treeline carpeted with wild flowers, filling his water bottle from mountain springs and waterfalls. Having left his native Scotland in his twenties to circumnavigate the world, Aitken reached the Himalaya and stopped, enraptured. For Aitken, travel in the Himalaya is as much about the spirit as about landscapes, leeches, and aching knees. This sets him on a lively trail of holy men, both saintly and fraudulent, across all the pilgrim centres of the Himalaya. He travels in bulging buses to Rishikesh and Badrinath, Kedarnath and Gangotri. He seeks out tiny disused temples to little-known deities like Anasuiya, and discovers a village with temples dedicated to Duryodhana. He spends seven ascetic years in an ashram at Mirtola. All alo

NEW IN PAPERBACK

SUGATA BOSE A Hundred Horizons The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire ‘Sugata Bose has given us an excellent historical study, which is both interesting in itself (even for non-historians) and full of contemporary relevance for understanding an important ancestry of present-day globalization.’ —Amartya Sen Written around a set of sea voyages involving Curzon, Tagore, and Gandhi, as well as unknown merchants, labourers, soldiers, and pilgrims, this book asks us to completely rethink the nature of nationalism. It does so by arguing the importance of interregional arenas for extra-territorial and universalist anti-colonialism. This current of ideas, Bose powerfully demonstrates, coexisted and contended with territorial nationalism. He illuminates the interplay of nationalism and universalism in the thought and politics of a wide range of nationalists and patriots—both exalted and subaltern. This fascinating history of mobile peoples around the Indian Ocean also retrieves th

WEALTH OF LEARNING ON HEALTH

HEALTH AND POPULATION IN SOUTH ASIA From Earliest Times to the Present Sumit Guha Over the past millennium old world populations and their new world colonies have expanded enormously. The history of human populations acquires a new interest in an epoch when human beings are aware of the burden they are placing on the ecosystem. Asia has long contained a major fraction of world population, and East and South Asia have accounted for most of that fraction. This book focuses on various aspects of the poulation of South Asia over the past twenty-five centuries. An introduction highlights the book’s points of contact with the debates in the population history of Asia, Europe and the Americas. This leads into a major chapter on the population of South Asia from 200 BC to 1900 AD. This offers an unprecedentedly long time-series for South Asia, and it is likely to be the standard reference for some time to come. Its importance may be gauged by the fact that very few scholars have e

NEW IN PAPERBACK

PARTISANS OF ALLAH JIHAD IN SOUTH ASIA AYESHA JALAL “Based on a vast command of the relevant literature, wide-ranging, meticulous research, fine-tuned analysis, and deep critical thinking, Partisans of Allah traces the history of ideas about jihad and its ethical practice from the early days of Islam to the present” David Ludden, New York University “It is difficult to imagine a timelier or a more thoughtful book on this subject. Jalal’s subtle reinterpretations sweep away many of the misconceptions fostered both by Western commentators and contemporary Muslim publicists” C.A. Bayly, Cambridge University “Jalal restores the much-used concept of jihad to its enabling history of radical self-examination in the pursuit of justice and freedom, treading a fine balance between religious faith and secular belief. This is a courageous and brilliant book for a hopeful future beyond the quagmire of those who believe in the clash of civilizations” Homi Bhabha, Harvard University
Véronique Benei Schooling India Hindus, Muslims, and the Forging of Citizens This book explores an important yet often overlooked aspect of nationalism—its embodied and emotional dimensions. It does so by focusing on a neglected area, that of elementary education in the modern state. Through an ethnographic study of primary schools in western India, Véronique Benei examines the idioms through which teachers, students, and parents make meaning of their political world. She articulates how urban middle- and lower-class citizens negotiate the processes of self-making through the minutiae of daily life at school and extracurricular activities, ranging from school trips to competitions and parent gatherings. To document how processes of identity formation are embodied, Benei draws upon historical and cultural repertoires of emotionality and language-use. Her book shifts the normal focus of attention away from apocalyptic communal violence—she looks instead at everyday or ‘banal natio
ANANYA JAHANARA KABIR Territory of Desire Representing the Valley of Kashmir A result of territorial disputes between India and Pakistan since 1947, exacerbated by armed freedom movements since 1989, the ongoing conflict over Kashmir is consistently in the news. Taking a unique multidisciplinary approach, Territory of Desire asks how, and why, Kashmir came to be so intensely desired within Indian, Pakistani, and Kashmiri nationalistic imaginations. Literary historian Ananya Jahanara Kabir finds an answer to this question in the Valley of Kashmir’s repeated portrayal as a ‘special’ place and the missing piece of Pakistan and India. Analysing the conversion of natural beauty into collective desire—through photography, literature, cinema, art, and souvenir production—Kabir exposes the links between colonialism, modernity, and conflict within the postcolonial nation. Representations of Kashmir as a space of desire emerge in contemporary film, colonial ‘taming’ of the valley thro

THE FOUNTAINHEAD OF THE SUBALTERN MOVEMENT

RANAJIT GUHA The Small Voice of History Collected Essays Edited and with an Introduction by PARTHA CHATTERJEE At A CEREMONY IN HONOUR OF RANAJIT GUHA ON 2 MAY 2009 IN KOLKATA, THE GREAT MAN WAS PRESENTE D THE FIRST COPY OF HIS BOOK BY PARTHA CHATTERJEE. LATER, RG AUTOGRAPHED NEARLY 50 COPIES FOR BUYERS IN THE AUDIENCE Ranajit Guha is arguably the Indian historian whose writings have had a massive and formative impact on contemporary scholarship in several disciplines throughout the world: on postcolonial studies in literature, in anthropology, in history, in cultural studies, in art history. Guha first became known as the practitioner of a critical Marxism that ran parallel to the work of British and French Marxist historians of the 1960s and 1970s but which, instead of re-creating a ‘history from below’, sought active political engagement with the present by deploying insights drawn from Gramsci and Mao. More recently, Guha’s writings have drawn attention to the phenome

FIRST PERMANENT BLACK BOOK TO WIN THE COOMARASWAMY PRIZE

THE MANY LIVES OF A RAJPUT QUEEN Heroic Pasts in India, circa 1500-1900 by RAMYA SREENIVASAN THIS BOOK HAS WON THE PRESTIGIOUS ANANDA KENTISH COOMARASWAMY PRIZE FOR 2009 THE CITATION READS "This wide-ranging monograph effortlessly traverses regions and genres to study the evolution of a historical memory. The Padmini story of a beautiful queen who is desired by a powerful enemy and who finally immolates herself rather than surrender has been current in South Asian folk and high literary traditions for over five centuries. In the colonial and post-colonial era it has been appropriated by Hindu nationalists as a narrative of purity and virtue. Rather than accept this recent retelling, Sreenivasan analyzes Padmini's story through its entire narrative trajectory, deploying at once the skills of a historian who combines an understanding of religious thought and social history and those of a literary scholar deeply familiar with gendered tropes in narrative and discourse.

O.K. TATA TO HINDUTVA

THE MODERNITY OF SANSKRIT by Simona Sawhney IF YOU THOUGHT that Sanskrit and its canonical texts validate the Hindutva worldview, this book will make you think again. It shows how writers such as Tagore and Gandhi deployed the Indian literary and religious canon to argue broadly liberal positions, and how it is both possible and necessary to view the possibilities of political plenitude within texts misappropriated by the Hindu Right. “A passionate plea, made with erudition and conviction, for taking new stock of the modern engagement with Sanskrit, not only in Hindi lyric, drama, and essay, but also in the new political readings of texts as safely ‘classical’ as the Bhagavadgita.” —Vasudha Dalmia, Professor of Hindi, University of California, Berkeley “Three predictions come to mind upon reading The Modernity of Sanskrit . First, it will blow the current field of Sanskrit Studies apart. Second, it will wake up practitioners of various literary studies disciplines — particularly

MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO INDIAN SECULARISM

The Crisis of Secularism in India edited by Anuradha Dingwaney Needham and Rajeswari Sunder Rajan “Philosophical, historical, and contemporary at the same time, these essays add a new dimension to global discussions of liberalism and the politics of the religious Right.”—Dipesh Chakrabarty Essays by Flavia Agnes, Upendra Baxi, Shyam Benegal, Akeel Bilgrami, Partha Chatterjee, V. Geetha, Sunil Khilnani, Nivedita Menon, Ashis Nandy, Gyanendra Pandey, Gyan Prakash, Arvind Rajagopal, Paula Richman, Sumit Sarkar, Dwaipayan Sen, Shabnum Tejani, Romila Thapar, Ravi S. Vasudevan, and Gauri Viswanathan. Collectively, the essays consider the history of secularism in India; the relationship between secularism and democracy; and shortcomings in the categories “majority” and “minority.” They examine how debates about secularism play out in schools, the media, and in popular cinema. And they address two of the most politically charged sites of crisis: personal law and the right to practice and

THE BOOK THAT MADE SOME MEN VERY ANGRY

THE UGLINESS OF THE INDIAN MALE AND OTHER PROPOSITIONS by Mukul Kesavan A dazzling collection of Mukul Kesavan’s essays on cinema, writing, travel, the media, politics. ‘Whatever [Kesavan] writes about carries within it the germ of his political beliefs which include, of course, the notion that it is right and proper for writers to express their opinions vigorously and fearlessly; that this has not yet ceased to be a nation where it is possible to do so without being fearful about the consequences.’ Manjula Padmanabhan, Outlook ‘Kesavan’s knowledge of the Hindi film is deep, and deeply felt....The essay on the Urdu connection with the Hindi film is fascinating. His travel writing and political commentary is acute and compelling.’ Keshav Desiraju, The Hindu ‘... whether its Salman Rushdie’s latest novel, or Konkana Sen’s latest role, there is an unmasking of a false cosmopolitanism and an improving upon of the public notions of secularism and pluralism.’ Rehan Ansari, DNA IS