14 December 2010


Pumpkin Flower Fritters, a banquet of Bengali recipes, is available again in paperback after a brief interruption. It is distributed by Orient Blackswan and is published by Permanent Black. Another old favourite, A Sahib's Manual For the Mali is similarly available again. Have a look, get your copies now, in the best season for cooking and gardening.


Black Kite, an imprint of Permanent Black, will be publishing a few books every year in collaboration with Hachette India. A resissue of Ramachandra Guha's bestselling, thought-provoking HOW MUCH SHOULD A PERSON CONSUME is the first of them. More to come from Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Partha Chatterjee, (the late) Sheila Dhar, Nayanjot Lahiri, and others.

19 November 2010



“Srinath Raghavan has set the standard for future work”
Kanti Bajpai, Seminar

“In this important and readable book, Srinath Raghavan breaks new historical ground with a thorough and acute analysis of Nehru’s foreign policy”
Sir Lawrence Freedman

“A remarkable analysis, based on meticulous scholarship ... an important contribution to current debates in India and elsewhere”
Sunil Khilnani

“Will influence scholarly debates for years to come”
Ramachandra Guha

“Not only allows us to make a more informed assessment of our national security strategy under Nehru, but also provides a sound basis to reflect on the kind of framework that must guide India”
C. Rajamohan, Indian Express

“A brilliant historical account of India’s strategy and foreign policy in the initial years after independence”
Pranay Sharma, Outlook

“Thoroughly researched and extremely lucidly written ... a major contribution to the making of contemporary India”
Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Telegraph

“A worthy addition to the literature”
Salman Haidar, Economic and Political Weekly

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. War and Peace in Modern India challenges and revises our received understanding of his handling of international affairs. General readers as well as students of Indian history and politics will find its balanced consideration of Nehru’s foreign policy essential to gauge his achievements, his failures, and his enduring legacy.

Cover: Jawaharlal Nehru and General Ayub Khan, the second president of Pakistan, photograph by Homai Vyarawalla. Courtesy of Sabeena Gadihoke, author of Camera Chronicles of Homai Vyarawalla

paperback / 384pp / Rs 395 / 81-7824-320-2 / Jan 2011

For sale in South Asia / Copublished by Palgrave Macmillan London

11 November 2010


FOUR NEW paperbacks -- THE CASTE QUESTION; THE GRASSROOTS OF DEMOCRACY; THE INDIAN ARMY AND THE MAKING OF PUNJAB; BEHIND THE VEIL -- comprise a rich harvest for scholars, students, and readers of serious writings on aspects of India

Publishing in Winter 2010

20 October 2010

Classic Monograph on India's first great Dalit icon


Caste, Conflict, and Ideology

Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Low Caste Protest
in Nineteenth-Century Western India

This is the first Indian reprint, with a new preface by the author, of a classic work which was first published in 1985.

The nineteenth century saw the beginning of a violent and controversial movement of protest amongst western India’s low and untouchable castes, aimed at the effects of their lowly position within the Hindu caste hierarchy. The leaders of this movement were convinced that religious hierarchies had combined with the effects of British colonial rule to produce inequality and injustice in many fields, from religion to politics and education.

This study concentrates on the first leader of this movement, Mahatma Jotirao Phule. It shows him as its first ideologist, working out a unique brand of radical humanism. It analyses his contribution to one of the most important and neglected social developments in western India in this period—the formation of a new regional identity.

This process of identity formation is studied against the background of the earlier history of caste relations, and contributes important evidence about the relationship between ritual status and political power. The author draws extensively on vernacular language materials and evidence about popular culture from oral traditions.

ROSALIND O’HANLON is Professor of Indian History and Culture in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. Her publications include A Comparison Between Women and Men: Tarabai Shinde and the Critique of Gender Relations in Colonial India, and numerous articles on the social history of colonial and early modern India.

PAPERBACK / 346PP / RS 395 / ISBN 81-7824-313-X / SOUTH ASIA RIGHTS ONLY / December 2010

19 September 2010

Triple Whammy on Politics, Ideas, and Indian Democracy


The Enchantment of Democracy and India
Politics and Ideas

Sudipta Kaviraj
has long been recognized as among India’s most thoughtful and wide-ranging political thinkers and analysts, one of the subtlest and most learned writers on Indian politics. Paradoxically, this has remained something of a state secret, because Kaviraj’s writings have remained scattered in journals difficult to access.

The essays in this volume, the third in a linked trilogy, try to approach Indian democracy from different angles. It is wrong to believe, Kaviraj argues, that with the rise of modernity human societies suffer complete disenchantment: modernity creates new forms of enchantment, and democracy is, in fact, part of the political enchantment of modernity.

Focusing on Indian democracy, Kaviraj shows the limits of marxist and liberal political analyses. In its Indian incarnation, he says, liberal democracy has had to inhabit an unfamiliar cultural and historical world whose peculiarities are very different from the peculiarities of European societies. Viewed by conventional political theory, Indian democracy appears inexplicable. It defies all the preconditions that theory lays down for the success of democratic government—namely, a strong bureaucratic state, capitalist production, industrialization, the secularization of society, and relative economic prosperity. The durability of Indian democracy shows that instead of asking how Indian democracy has survived, we need to ask if those are in fact preconditions for democracy.

These and many other fascinating issues of democracy’s relationship with religion, identity, development, inequality, and culture comprise the themes that link the essays in this brilliant and insightful collection.

SUDIPTA KAVIRAJ is a professor of Indian politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. Earlier he taught for many years at SOAS, London University, following a long teaching stint at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has been a fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as at the University of Chicago. Kaviraj's earlier essay collections, The Imaginary Institution of India and The Trajectories of the Indian State, are also available from Permanent Black.

HARDBACK / 352PP / RS 695 / ISBN 81-7824-296-6 / WORLD RIGHTS / DEC 2010

22 August 2010


A Concise History of
Modern Architecture in India

paperback edition

Jon Lang

This is an invaluable book for those who want to understand the geography of their cities, as well as for students of Indian architecture. In lucid language that speaks to laymen and architects alike, Jon Lang provides a history of Indian architecture in the twentieth century.

He analyses its tangled developments from the founding of the Indian Institute of Architects during the 1920s to the present diversity of architectural directions. He describes the often contradictory tugs of the international and the local as he reviews architects’ efforts to be up-to-date in their work.
Lang examines the early influences on Indian architecture both of movements like the Bauhaus as well as prominent individuals like Habib Rehman, Jawaharlal Nehru, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. He looks at monuments, museums, resettlement colonies, housing, offices and movie halls all over India in his wide-ranging survey. Over 150 photographs and line drawings explain and illustrate concepts outlined in the text.

Jon Lang was born in Calcutta. He has been Professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and earlier, Director of the Urban Design Program at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught from 1970 to 1990. He has coauthored (with Madhavi Desai and Miki Desai) Architecture and Independence: The Search for Identity (1997). He is also the author of Creating Architectural Theory (1987) and Urban Design: The American Experience (1994).

Paperback / large format / 214pp / Rs 695 / ISBN 81-7824-305-9 / World rights

03 August 2010


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23 July 2010


Caste, Business, and Industry in a Modern Nation

by Harish Damodaran



‘Business in India has grown today to being no longer limited to a few castes or families ... Damodaran’s book makes a seminal contribution to understanding the link between diverse entrepreneurial capital and the development of societies ...’—NANDAN NILEKANI

‘Damodaran presents a richly insightful analysis of the deepening of India’s business class in recent decades.' RAMACHANDRA GUHA and SUNIL KHILNANI

In tracing the modern-day evolution of business communities in India, this book is the first social history to document and understand India’s new entrepreneurial groups. Written accessibly, and combining analytic rigour with journalistic flair, it also contains fifteen individual case studies that embellish its general findings.

365 pp / Rs 395 / Paperback / ISBN 81-7824-258-3 / For sale in South Asia only / Copublished by Palgrave Macmillan, London / April 09

22 July 2010

Of Sanskrit Kavyas and Punjabi Qisse

Two young scholars examine literary genres ...


The Social Space of Language
Vernacular Culture in British Colonial Punjab
by Farina Mir

Imagining the Urban
Sanskrit and the City in Early India

by Shonaleeka Kaul

When you think of India’s ancient cities, you think of khaki archaeologists digging crumbling structures out of ancient mud. Urban spheres, from this perspective, often look as dull as the dust from which they emerge.

But the early Indian city wasn’t like that at all, says Shonaleeka Kaul; it was certainly not only brick-and-mortar, nor merely an agglomeration of built-up space. In Sanskrit literature these cities were alive, vibrant, teeming with variety. Kaul examines Sanskrit kāvyas over about a thousand years to see what India’s early historic cities were like as living, lived-in, entities. She looks at ideologies, attitudes, institutions, and practices in ancient urban areas, showing the ways in which they often cohered into a worldview, a mentalité.

This is also a book about Sanskrit literature. Scholars have long argued for a nuanced use of literary texts to achieve a more rounded understanding of ancient history, and Kaul achieves exactly that. She takes forward the idea of a Sanskrit ‘literary culture’, arguing that genres influence methods of historical representation. Her book gives us a fresh view of the early city, showing distinctive urban ways of thought and behaviour which relate in complex ways to tradition, morality, and authority. In advocating Sanskrit kāvyas as an important historical source, it addresses not just ancient India specialists but also scholars of literary history: the kāvyas rework history, says Kaul, providing us with ‘transhistoricity’ rather than ‘ahistoricity’.

By asking new questions about early Indian cities and ancient Indian texts, this book asks to be read by every scholar of history, urbanism, cityscapes, literary history, Sanskrit writings, and South Asian antiquity.

SHONALEEKA KAUL teaches in the Department of History, University of Delhi. She was at Jawaharlal Nehru University for her PhD. As part of visiting faculty, she has also taught at Yale.

Hardback / 290pp / Rs 595 / ISBN 81-7824-278-8 / South Asia rights / August 2010

Copublished by Seagull New York

The Social Space of Language
Vernacular Culture in British Colonial Punjab
(South Asia Across the Disciplines Series)

This rich cultural history set in Punjab examines a little-studied body of popular literature to illustrate both the durability of a vernacular literary tradition and the limits of colonial dominance in British India.

Farina Mir asks how qisse, a vibrant genre of epics and romances, flourished in colonial Punjab despite British efforts to marginalize the Punjabi language. She explores topics including Punjabi linguistic practices, print and performance, and the symbolic content of qisse.

She finds that although the British denied Punjabi language and literature almost all forms of state patronage, the resilience of this popular genre came from its old but dynamic corpus of stories, their representations of place, and the moral sensibility that suffused them.

This multidisciplinary study reframes inquiry into cultural formations in late-colonial north India away from a focus on religious communal identities and nationalist politics and towards a widespread, ecumenical, and place-centred poetics of belonging in the region.

FARINA MIR is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Michigan.

Hardback / 294PP / RS 695 / ISBN 81-7824-307-5 / South Asia rights / October 2010
Copublished by the University of California Press, Berkeley

“Mir's archival work covers and foregrounds the breadth of the story-telling or qissa tradition, great and little, high and low, Sufi, Sikh and Hindu, showing its wide dissemination. Mir’s findings are of immense significance, given the turbulent history of the region in post-independence India and the political turmoil today, particularly on the Pakistani side of the border. Punjabi seldom finds this kind of focus in cultural history.”—Vasudha Dalmia, University of California, Berkeley

“Farina Mir has given us an outstanding work of literary and cultural history. She skilfully unravels the many versions of the famous folk-tale about Heer and Ranjha to illuminate gender, class and community relations in Punjab. This book will compel historians to rethink the links between language, religion and power and to reconsider the contingencies of union and partition in late colonial India.”—Sugata Bose, Harvard

“Mir makes creative use of archival and folkloric material to tell the history of a composite, modern, and gendered Punjabi self in colonial India that was sadly lost in the welter of partition politics and violence. The story of the legendary lovers Heer and Ranjha haunts her narrative like an artistic lament about a lost Punjabi self without in any way compromising the academic quality of her research and the rigour of her exposition. A very significant contribution to South Asian history.”—Dipesh Chakrabarty, The University of Chicago

“This is a pioneering study. Mir draws upon largely unfamiliar material and suggests new approaches to religio-cultural questions of great importance to South Asianists across a wide disciplinary spectrum.”—Christopher Shackle, SOAS, University of London

19 July 2010



Science, Society, and the Future of India's Wildlife

Ghazala Shahabuddin

India faces an ecological crisis of crippling proportions. The overexploitation of the country’s forests and wetlands is eating away at vital ecological processes. Rapid and unplanned economic development threatens to fragment and devour what little wildlife habitat survives. Plant and animal species are joining the ranks of the critically endangered faster than ever before.

India’s dominant conservation paradigm is one of control and exclusion, where animals and ecosystems are sought to be protected by guns, guards, fences. This book argues that environmental justice and improved governance have to be as much a part of the conservation agenda as sound ecological science and practice. It surveys alternative approaches to conservation which attempt to reconcile social equity with biodiversity goals.

Using the Sariska Tiger Reserve as an anchor, the author analyses the historical, socio-political, and biological contexts of nature conservation in the country in an effort to identify the causes of India’s ecological crisis. She provides detailed data to demonstrate that a broad-based participatory approach to conservation is necessary if we are to see India’s extraordinary wildlife survive into the next century.

The product of years of travel and research in remote places, this book combines rigour, logic, and passion. It will alert every reader to the danger that the wildlife and ecosystems we hope to preserve may have been ravaged beyond repair by the time we accept the need for change in our conservation strategies.

GHAZALA SHAHABUDDIN is Associate Professor, School of Human Ecology, B.R. Ambedkar University, Delhi. After her PhD in conservation biology from Duke University in 1998, she has worked and published extensively on habitat fragmentation, sustainable forest management, the human impact on biodiversity, and conservation-induced displacement.

Hardback / 254 pp / Rs 595 / ISBN 81-7824-264-8 / World rights / 2010

14 July 2010

Paperbacking the Slave Dynasty

SUNIL KUMAR The Emergence of the Delhi Sultanate AD 1192–1286

The Sultans of Delhi came from relatively humble origins. They were slaves who rose to become generals in the armies of the Afghan ruler Muizz al-Dīn Ghūrī. Their transformation into rulers of a kingdom of great political influence in North India was a slow and discontinuous process that occurred through the thirteenth century.

For the better part of that century, there were many centres of social and political power in the early Delhi Sultanate. There were military commanders with contending political ambitions, as well as urban elites with contrasting social constituencies, religious ideologies, and personal commitments. Such people did not always support authoritarian interventions seeking to create a monolithic state.

So, for decades, the Sultanate seemed to disappear from political reckoning, and its resurrections were more in the nature of reincarnations. It made its periodic reappearances in bodily forms different from those of its precursors. Ultimately, the Delhi Sultanate survived not just because of the political and military acumen of its rulers and military agents, but because of the ideological investment of a variety of Muslim émigrés that saw the Delhi Sultanate as a sanctuary for Muslims during the period of Mongol holocaust.

The Emergence of the Delhi Sultanate, Sunil Kumar charts the history of the structures that sustained and challenged this regime, and of the underlying ideologies—eliding its sometimes ephemeral form—that gave meaning to the idea of the Delhi Sultanate.

SUNIL KUMAR is Professor, History Department, Delhi University. His publications include The Present in Delhi’s Pasts, and an edited volume, Demolishing Myths or Mosques and Temples? Readings on History and Temple Desecration in Medieval India. He is also the managing editor of the Indian Economic and Social History Review.

Paperback / 440pp / Rs 395 / ISBN 81-7824-306-7 / World rights / September 2010

19 June 2010



The Trajectories of the Indian State

Politics and Ideas

Sudipta Kaviraj has long been recognized as among India’s most thoughtful and wide-ranging political thinkers and analysts, one of the subtlest and most learned writers on Indian politics. Ironically, this has remained something of a state secret because Kaviraj’s writings are scattered and not easy to access as a connected body. So the present volume—like its predecessor The Imaginary Institution of India—fills a vital gap in South Asian political thought.

Among Kaviraj’s many strengths is his exceptional ability to position Indian politics within the frameworks of Western political philosophy alongside perspectives from indigenous political thought. In order to understand relations between the state and social groups, or between dominant and subaltern communities, Kaviraj says it is necessary to first historicize the study of Indian politics. Deploying the historical method, he looks at the precise character of Indian social groups, the nature of political conflicts, the specific mechanisms of social oppression, and many related issues.

In so doing Kaviraj reveals the variety of historical trajectories taken by Indian democracy. Indian political structures, with their developed system of rules and legislative orders, may seem to derive from colonialism. Yet these structures, says Kaviraj, are comparable less to the European nation-states of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries than to the pre-modern empire-states of Indian and Islamic history. Scholars often work with a false genealogy: the convention of starting the story of Indian politics with 1947, or even 1858, has led to misconstructions. Kaviraj shows that there is no serious way into present politics except through a longer past; Weber, Marx, and Foucault may be less important in this enterprise than painstaking reconnections with the vernacular facts of Indian political history.

This volume, like The Imaginary Institution of India: Politics and Ideas (Permanent Black 2009), is indispensable for every student and scholar of South Asian politics, history, and sociology.

SUDIPTA KAVIRAJ is a professor of Indian politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. Before that he taught for many years at SOAS, London University, following a long teaching stint at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has been a fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as at the University of Chicago.

HARDBACK / 290pp / Rs 695 / ISBN 81-7824-288-5 / WORLD RIGHTS / September 2010

17 June 2010



It has now been reissued as a paperback, with a new Foreword by Francesca Orsini outlining why this is such a politically important and invaluable work of scholarship for anyone wishing to understand the Hindi universe of colonial and contemporary North India.

Paperback / 530pp / Rs 495 / ISBN 81-7824-304-0 / September 2010

10 May 2010

The Virtually Unknown Mahatma of Indian Academics

Dharmanand Kosambi
The Essential Writings

Edited, Translated, and with an Introduction by Meera Kosambi

The life and writings of Dharmanand Kosambi (1876–1947), pioneering scholar of Pali and Buddhist Studies, comprise the substance of this book.

Born in rural Goa, Dharmanand came under the spell of the Buddha’s teachings during his adolescence. As described in his long autobiographical memoir (included here), at an early age he set off on an incredible journey of austere self-training across the length and breadth of Britain’s Indian Empire, halting to educate himself at places connected with Buddhism. His sojourns included living in Sri Lanka to master Pali as a novitiate-scholar, in a Burmese cave as a bhikshu, and in some viharas of North India—begging for monastic sustenance—as well as in Nepal and Sikkim which he reached after arduous, sometimes barefoot, treks. Over these itinerant years Dharmanand acquired such mastery of the Buddhist canon that he was variously appointed to teach and research at Calcutta, Baroda, Harvard, and Leningrad.

As a thinker Dharmanand blended Buddhist ethics, Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of truth and non-violence, and the ideals of socialism. He exchanged letters with the Mahatma, worked for his causes, and died in the approved Buddhist/Jain manner by voluntary starvation at Sevagram ashram. Arguably, no Indian scholar’s life has been as exemplary as Dharmanand’s, or has approximated as closely to the nobility and saintliness of the Mahatma’s.

Despite his mastery of several languages, Dharmanand chose to write in Marathi because of his strong region-specific commitment. Consequently, very few today are familiar with his copious output in Buddhist Studies, and fewer still with his contribution to social and political thought.

By translating and marshalling his most significant writings, Meera Kosambi shows the manifold dimensions of Dharmanand’s personality, and the profoundly moral character of his intellectual journeys. Her Introduction also contextualizes the life, career, and achievement of one of modern India’s greatest scholar-savants.

MEERA KOSAMBI is a sociologist trained in India, Sweden, and the USA. She has specialized in Urban Studies and Women’s Studies. She was formerly Professor and Director of the Research Centre for Women’s Studies at the SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai. She has taught, lectured, and published widely in India and abroad. Her books include Returning the American Gaze: Pandita Ramabai’s ‘The Peoples of the United States’ (1889) (2003), Crossing Thresholds: Feminist Essays in Social History (2007), and Feminist Vision or ‘Treason against Men’? Kashibai Kanitkar and the Engendering of Marathi Literature (2008).

READ Nayanjot Lahiri on Dharmanand Kosambi here:
story: From where I sit: Noble quest for knowledge


HARDBACK / 430PP incl. 5 b/w photos / Rs 695 / ISBN 81-7824-303-2 / WORLD RIGHTS / Publication date August 2010

09 May 2010

Burning Issues in a Long Out-of-Print Classic: New, Radically Revised, Substantially Enlarged Edition

The Flaming Feet and Other Essays The Dalit Movement in India
Edited and with an Introduction by Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi and with a Foreword by Ashis Nandy

READ A REVIEW here and here

Described by Ashis Nandy as the foremost non-Brahmin intellectual to emerge from India’s vast non-English speaking world, D.R. Nagaraj (1954–1998) was a profound political commentator and cultural critic.

Nagaraj’s importance lies in consolidating and advancing some of the ideas of India’s leading Dalit thinker and icon, B.R. Ambedkar. Following Ambedkar, Nagaraj argues that the Dalit movement rejected the traditional Hindu world and thus dismissed untouchable pasts entirely; but, he says, rebels too require cultural memory. Their emotions of bewilderment, rage, and resentment can only be transcended via a politics of affirmation.

This book gives us Nagaraj’s vision of caste in relation to Dalit politics. It theorizes the caste system as a mosaic of contestations centred around dignity, religiosity, and entitlement. Examining moments of untouchable defiance, Nagaraj argues out a politics of cultural affirmation within his redefinition of Dalit identity. More significantly, he argues against self-pity and rage in artistic imagination, and for re-creating the banished worlds of gods and goddesses.

Nagaraj’s importance lies in suggesting a framework for an alliance of all the oppressed communities of India. This involves, first, a reconciliation of Gandhi and Ambedkar; second, a recognition that modernity has caused a technocide vis-à-vis artisans; third, a reimagining of the Dalit rejection of history, for an alternative reading of untouchable pasts shows that these humiliated communities possessed an autonomous cultural domain.

Nagaraj was that rare observer of politics who did not offer standard social science fare: in fact, he used the phrase ‘competent social scientist’ to damn the person he was speaking of. Not only were his themes unusual, his analytical methods and quirky reliance on cultural texts for analysis were equally so. He uses such material and focuses on these themes because his sensibility was shaped by the Dalit movement, as much as by the time he spent scrutinizing literary texts.

This is a foundational text for Dalit Studies. It was first published in 1993 and has been out of print for the past many years. The present edition is a radically expanded version of the original and includes many hitherto unpublished and uncollected essays and lectures by Nagaraj.


Who's Afraid of Sir Ifor Evans?


edited by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

This is an updated, text-only version of AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF INDIAN LITERATURE IN ENGLISH.
It is being published in paperback for the first time.

CHOICE magazine of the USA chose the illustrated version as its OUTSTANDING ACADEMIC TITLE OF THE YEAR.

This is what the critics said
‘A delightful journey through Indian writing in English from its beginnings in the early nineteenth century to the boom in fiction we’re witnessing now.’ Padmini Mongia, Biblio

‘This is the best kind of history . . . it deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone who has an inquiring mind.’ Nilanjana S. Roy, The Hindu

‘. . . an amazing volume . . . A rigorous book, with a brilliant introduction, this compendium joins K.R. Srinivas Iyengar’s legendary Indian Writing in English.’ P. Venkateswaran, Choice

‘A useful and detailed guide to a varied body of writing.’ Siddhartha Deb, Times Literary Supplement

Paperback / Rs 395 / 460pp / ISBN 81-7824-302-4 / Aug-Sep 2010 / South Asia Rights only / Copublished for the West by Palgrave Macmillan London

02 May 2010


Yigal Bronner
Extreme Poetry
The South Asian Movement of
Simultaneous Narration

Series: South Asia Across the Disciplines

Beginning in the sixth century CE and continuing for more than a thousand years, an extraordinary poetic practice was the trademark of a major literary movement in South Asia. Authors invented a special language to depict both the apparent and hidden sides of disguised or dual characters, and then used it to narrate India’s major epics, the Ramāyāṇa and the Mahābhārata, simultaneously.

Originally produced in Sanskrit, these dual narratives eventually worked their way into regional languages, especially Telugu and Tamil, and other artistic media, such as sculpture. Scholars have long dismissed simultaneous narration as a mere curiosity, if not a sign of cultural decline in medieval India. Yet Yigal Bronner’s Extreme Poetry effectively negates this position, proving that, far from being a meaningless pastime, this intricate, “bitextual” technique both transcended and reinvented Sanskrit literary expression.

The poems of simultaneous narration teased and estranged existing convention and showcased the interrelations between the tradition’s foundational texts. By focusing on these achievements and their reverberations through time, Bronner rewrites the history of Sanskrit literature and its aesthetic goals. He also expands on contemporary theories of intertextuality, which have been largely confined to Western texts and practices.

YIGAL BRONNER is an assistant professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He is a Sanskritist trained at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the University of Chicago. He researches Sanskrit poetics and South Asian intellectual history.

Hardback / 376pp / ISBN 81-7824-299-0 / Rs 750 / South Asia rights only / Copublished with Columbia University Press / July 2010

Praise for Extreme Poetry

“There is nothing else available in Indian studies or in literary studies
that is at all like this book. Extreme Poetry opens up a new field, and
new possibilities in existing fields. It treats a phenomenon in Sanskrit—
simultaneous narration—which everyone reading Indian literature has
encountered but which no one has been able to make much sense of in
intellectual terms. Specialists, students, and lovers of Indian literature
will find this book a revelation and a pleasure to read, from the first
page to the last. It is destined to become something of a classic.”
—C. Minkowski, University of Oxford

“There can be no doubt that this is an original and outstanding contribution
to the field of Sanskrit literary scholarship. Extreme Poetry is at
the highest level of Indological literary scholarship, and it is evident
that Yigal Bronner is deeply enamored with his subject. One of his chief
contributions is to ask us to look once again at the seriousness of the
aesthetic and emotive purposes with which this phenomenon has been
skillfully and effectively deployed by some of the most highly regarded
poets and playwrights of the Indian tradition. Bronner’s text will serve
as a much needed corrective to the dismissive stance taken by critics
toward an interesting and even astonishing literary technique. This
book shows it to be far more than mere verbal fireworks.”
—R. P. Goldman, University of California at Berkeley

17 April 2010


Anthropology in the East
Founders of Indian Sociology and Anthropology

edited by
Patricia Uberoi, Nandini Sundar, and Satish Deshpande

Anthropology and sociology have long histories in India. Yet, with the exception of fieldwork experience, there is neither much available on the institutional and material contexts of these disciplines, nor on the practices of pioneering anthropologists and sociologists.

The present book fills an important gap. While the sociology of India is not purely a national phenomenon (scholars and centres studying India exist outside), and while Western theories have been important, this book shows that local influences and personalities played a major role in shaping the field.

The volume spans a century of life and work, from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth century, and focuses on scholars with varying research trajectories. However, it also shows the threads that bind these scholars: their common concern with nation-building, social reform, and the value of science.

July 2010/ ISBN 81-7824-300-8 / paperback/ 568 pp / Rs 495/ For sale in South Asia only.


History in the Vernacular

Was there history writing in India before the British? Looking closely at vernacular contexts and traditions of historical production, this book questions the assumption that there was no history writing in India before colonialism. It suggests that careful readings reveal distinctly indigenous historical narratives. These narratives may be embedded within non-historical literary genres, such as poems, ballads, and works within the itihasa-purana tradition, but they are marked by discursive signs that allow them to be recognized as historical.

Vernacular history traditions in Assam, Bengal, the North-East, Kerala, the Andhra-Tamil region, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh are examined here with fresh archival material and new insights, making this a valuable book for historians, sociologists, and South Asianists.

RAZIUDDIN AQUIL is a reader in history at the University of Delhi. PARTHA CHATTERJEE's several books include A Princely Impostor? The Kumar of Bhawal and the Secret History of Indian Nationalism (Permanent Black paperback).

Paperback / 512pp / Rs 495 / ISBN 81-7824-225-7 / July 2010

08 April 2010

Tochter aus Elysium? ...


Ganga and Yamuna
River Goddesses and their Symbolism in Indian Temples

There are many books on the Ganga and Yamuna rivers, pictorial and celebratory. The present one is of a different kind. Professor von Stietencron investigates the temple sculptures of Ganga and Yamuna in order to unveil a whole cosmos of Hindu ritual and conceptual tradition. He shows how an entire worldview informs the planning and sculptural embellishment of such a temple—conceived of as the body of the deity enshrined in it.

Consequently this book is a historical study of the sculptures of the goddesses Ganga and Yamuna adorning the doorways of Indian temples, most recognizable from the Gupta period onwards. It examines how these gracious and purifying riverine deities have been conceived in human form. It discusses in detail the rich store of puranic myths and legends woven around these deities, tracing their Vedic roots and showing their evolution since then.

Translated from the German, this is a significant work of classical Indological scholarship. Drawing upon Sanskrit and various other sources, it provides major insights into the complex cultural history of Hindu religious traditions.

Heinrich von Stietencron has been Professor of Indology and Comparative History of Religion (1973–98) at the University of Tuebingen. He is a leading authority on the epics and the puranas, on temple symbolism and iconography, and on religious practice and social structure. He is chief editor of the annotated Epic and Puranic Bibliography (1992). He has devoted many years to field research in Orissa, documenting the many temples and studying the manuscript traditions of the region. His several books include Hindu Myth, Hindu History (Permanent Black, 2005). He was awarded the Padma Shree in 2004.

Hardback / 202pp / Rs 495 / ISBN 81-7824-285-0 / World rights / July 2010

19 March 2010

IN PRACTICE (Roll Over Aijaz Ahmad)


Islam in South Asia in Practice

This volume brings together the work of more than thirty scholars of Islam and Muslim societies in South Asia. It comprises a rich anthology of primary texts that contributes to a new appreciation of the lived religious and cultural experiences of the world's largest population of Muslims.

The thirty-four selections—translated from Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Gujarati, Hindavi, Dakhani, and other languages—highlight a wide variety of genres, many rarely found in standard accounts of Islamic practice, from oral narratives to elite guidance manuals, from devotional songs to secular judicial decisions arbitrating Islamic law, and from political posters to a discussion among college women affiliated with an “Islamist” organization.

Drawn from premodern texts, modern pamphlets, government and organizational archives, new media, and contemporary fieldwork, the selections reflect the rich diversity of Islamic belief and practice in South Asia. Each reading is introduced with a brief contextual note from its scholar-translator, and Barbara Metcalf introduces the whole volume with a substantial historical overview.

BARBARA D. METCALF is president of the American Historical Association. She is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Davis, and most recently taught at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Islamic Revival in British India and coauthor of A Concise History of Modern India.

“Barbara Metcalf has helped transform the study of modern South Asian Islam by her insistence on close readings of texts; her attention to religious practice, institutions, and worldview; and her refusal to dismiss the concerns of South Asian actors. This edited volume, with its magisterial introduction, exemplifies these qualities while giving us access to a wide range of texts from throughout South Asia. She and her collaborators are owed great thanks.”—Juan Cole

“This is undoubtedly the richest collection of materials on South Asian Islam ever to be published in a single volume. What makes it so rich is its contributors' presentation and interpretation of primary texts, rather than any attempt to broach a synthetic narrative, however complex. This approach allows the book to be used in different ways: as an introduction to the wealth of Muslim texts and practices in South Asia, as a guide to scholarly debates on South Asian Islam, and as a reference. Barbara Metcalf's introduction is a masterpiece of lucid condensation.”—Faisal Devji

“This is a book of the first importance. It offers a way of engaging with Muslims and Muslim societies that takes them out of orientalist and political discourses and instead focuses on what Muslims actually say and do. It should form approaches to Islam among generations of students. Barbara Metcalf's masterly introduction gives the whole book a rich context infused with deep historical understanding.”—Francis Robinson

HARDBACK / 504PP / Rs 795 / ISBN 81-7824-297-4 / SOUTH ASIA RIGHTS / June 2010
Copublished with Princeton University Press

18 March 2010

Telengana? But What About Telugu?


Language, Emotion, and Politics in South India

The Making of a Mother Tongue

Winner of the Edward Cameron Dimock, Jr., Prize in the Indian Humanities, American Institute of Indian Studies

What makes someone willing to die, not for a nation, but for a language? In the 1950s and 1960s a wave of suicides in the name of language swept through South India. This book asks why such emotional attachments to language appeared.

It answers by tracing shifts in local perceptions and experiences of language in general, and Telugu in particular, during the preceding century.
Mitchell shows the emergence in India of language as the foundation for the reorganization of a wide range of forms of knowledge and practice. These included literary production, the writing of history, geographic imagination, grammatical and lexical categorizations, ideas about translation, and pedagogy. Newly organized around languages, these practices then enabled assertions of community and identity. Ultimately, by the early decades of the twentieth century, new linguistic identities had begun to appear ancient and natural rather than recent and invented. Indeed, though Andhra was created as independent India’s first linguistically defined state in 1952, diverse writings projected Indian linguistic identities backwards into a long past.

This is a fascinating study of linguistic identity, state formation, and political mobilization. It greatly enriches existing understandings of Indian history and politics.

LISA MITCHELL is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and History in the Department of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Mitchell’s prose is crisp and precise, her reasoning is historically informed and theoretically sophisticated, and her ethnography is both sensitive and astute. This book is informative, thought-provoking, and a pleasure to read.” —Partha Chatterjee

“An exceptionally provocative work, unparalleled and unprecedented, that will certainly exert a profound impact on many areas of scholarship . . . A wide-ranging and exhilarating intellectual roller-coaster ride.” —Phillip B. Wagoner

“Written with great zest and clarity, this book deepens our understanding of the complex
relationships among linguistic identity, state formation, and individual political participation in South India.” —Martha Ann Selby

Hardback / 302pp / Rs 695 / ISBN 81-7824-293-1 / South Asia rights / May 2010

06 March 2010

Ravi Vasudevan Ends Long Hibernation with 'Spectacular' New Book


the melodramatic

draws on melodrama as a key conceptual apparatus to understand how entertainment cinema in India drew audiences into complex passages of historical change. As the seeming consensus of the 1950s about nation-building unravelled in the 1970s, and globalization introduced new economic and territorial compulsions, Indian cinema offered compelling testimony to debates about economic advancement, social justice, inter-community conflict, and urban lifestyles.

Melodrama provided a narrative architecture and an expressive form which connected the public and the private, as well as the personal and the political, in ways which engaged audiences emotionally. In continuous dialogue with cinematic ‘others’—within American cinema, in Indian popular cinema, and in a realist art cinema—mainstream melodrama also underwent significant mutations. This book explores the dynamics of form and narrative strategy across a wide repertoire of film practices. These include the pioneer D.G. Phalke, popular ‘auteurs’ Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt, industry moguls Aditya and Yash Chopra, mainstream innovators Mani Rathnam, Kamalahasan, and Ram Gopal Verma, and art and documentary cinema icons Satyajit Ray and Anand Patwardhan.

The book concludes with the contemporary global moment associated with ‘Bollywood’. It considers changes in state policy and industrial organization, and the impact of digital technologies, new economies of consumption, and wider export markets on Indian film culture.

HARDBACK / 476PP / ISBN 81-7824-262-1 / RS 795.00 / SOUTH ASIA RIGHTS / May 2010

‘Here, finally, is the definitive and authoritative study of melodrama we have been hoping for. The Melodramatic Public is not only the most comprehensive book to redirect our understanding of Indian popular cinema, carefully tracing its manifold roots and conducting a painstaking archaeology of the genre. Vasudevan also redraws the map, because he proceeds from a genuinely global perspective, while nonetheless persuasively making the case for regionally specific and local factors in the history of modern popular culture’—THOMAS ELSAESSER

‘Relaying the genre of melodrama into the public realm via spectatorial positioning, Vasudevan demonstrates how, staging the play of new subjectivities within the political, melodrama mediates the very production of Indian modernity. His calibrated reading of Indian films both engages and dismantles generic canons in Euroamerican film studies’—GEETA KAPUR

‘One of the pioneers of film studies in India, in this long-awaited book, locates Indian popular cinema in a world context and offers a thoroughly revised understanding of melodrama as a global aesthetic with a rich Indian history. The author’s deep familiarity with world cinema traditions shines forth and illuminates local questions and challenges prevailing theories’—M. MADHAVA PRASAD

‘Ravi Vasudevan’s innovative concept of the “imaginary public”, developed across these essays through close analysis of Indian cinema’s melodramatic practices and the socio-cultural conditions of their operation, recasts our understanding of the relation between text and context and offers a welcome new approach not only to the application of “melodrama” to Indian filmmaking but to theorization of cinema itself’—CHRISTINE GLEDHILL

13 February 2010


Robin Jeffrey


Communications, Women, and the State in India

Two puzzles of modern India—one well known, the other overlooked—form the core of this book.

For fifty years, the state of Kerala has been famed, first as a home of Communists, then as a perplexing ‘model of development’. But why Communists? And why development, especially in a place where the economy usually underperformed even lowly national averages? Part of an answer lies in the unusual place of women in Kerala and their changing role in the past 200 years.

Another part lies in the other, often under-analyzed focus of this book: media and communication. Printing and publishing in Indian languages—and accompanying questions of literacy and language identity—present tantalizing puzzles.

Since data were first collected in the 1950s, Kerala’s people have been India’s greatest newspaper consumers. Do literacy and newspapers mobilize people for political action or does politicization make people into newspaper readers? To what extent do media wait on consumer capitalism before they break into the countryside to become truly mass media, as they have in India in the past thirty years?

Media and Modernity ponders these questions, first from the perspective of Kerala, often a forerunner of developments elsewhere, and then at an all-India level. Readers intrigued by questions of development, communications, politics, and the role of women will find in this collection stories that surprise and arguments that provoke.

ROBIN JEFFREY, arguably Australia’s best-known academic analyst of Indian cultural history and politics, has been a Professor at the Australian National University and Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific. He is currently a Visiting Research Professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore. His several books include India’s Newspaper Revolution (2000) and Politics, Women, and ‘Well-Being’ (1993).

Hardback / 320pp / Rs 695 / ISBN 81-7824-284-2 / World rights / April 2010

29 January 2010


The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal 1903–1908 (New Edition)

with a new preface by the author and critical essays by Neeladri Bhattacharya and Dipesh Chakrabarty

‘From the moment of its first printing about thirty-five years ago, The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal has always held a special place in the historiography of modern India. Very few monographs, if any, have ever rivalled the meticulous research and the thick description that characterized this book, or the lucidity of its exposition and the persuasive power of its overall argument … Sarkar’s research improved on existing historiography in a major way by bringing out many unknown or hitherto neglected aspects of the history of the Swadeshi movement: the complex divisions that marked its different trends, the labour movement and mass mobilization of the period that few knew about in our time, Swadeshi anticipation of many of the Gandhian techniques of protest … this book, which should have enjoyed a steady and buoyant market over the years, has strangely remained “out of print” for about fifteen successive years. Its republication by Permanent Black is truly a cause for celebration.’—Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago

‘Sumit Sarkar’s story of Swadeshi brings out in fascinating detail, with a wealth of sources, all that he sees as heroic and tragic, sublime and quixotic, in those dramatic and eventful years in Bengal. We have here no simple story of success or failure, no celebratory account of great deeds and noble figures, no linear unfolding of events that lead step by step to a final climax. What we have instead is a picture painted in shades of grey in which black and white merge and separate in that in-between zone where the blackness of black comes under question as much as the whiteness of white.’—Neeladri Bhattacharya, Jawaharlal Nehru University

SUMIT SARKAR is arguably the most influential and widely admired historian of modern India. His several books include Modern India 1885–1947, Writing Social History, and Beyond Nationalist Frames. Following a distinguished teaching career, he retired as Professor of History at Delhi University. He lives in New Delhi and is working on his next book.

Hardback / 520pp / Rs 695 / ISBN 81-7824-272-9 / World rights / March 2010

25 January 2010




About forty percent of the world’s people live on incomes of two dollars a day or less. If you’ve never had to survive on an income so small, it is hard to imagine. How would you put food on the table, afford a home, and educate your children? How would you handle emergencies and old age? Portfolios of the Poor is the first book to explain systematically how the poor find solutions.

The authors report on the yearlong “financial diaries” of villagers and slum dwellers in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa. The stories of these families are often surprising and inspiring. Most poor households do not live hand to mouth, spending what they earn in a desperate bid to keep afloat. Instead, they employ financial tools, many linked to informal networks and family ties. Their experiences reveal new methods to fight poverty and ways to envision the next generation of banks for the “bottom billion.”

Indispensable for those in development studies, economics, and microfinance, this book will appeal to anyone interested in knowing more about poverty and what can be done about it.

“[The authors’] scrupulous attention to actual behavior … makes this book invaluable” New Yorker / “A fascinating new book” New York Times / “The research provides evidence of the sophistication with which poor people think about their finances” Economist / “A refreshingly distinct path…In the war against global poverty, that feels like one small battle won” Washington Post

Daryl Collins is a senior associate at Bankable Frontier Associates in Boston. Jonathan Morduch is professor of public policy and economics at New York University. Stuart Rutherford is the author of The Poor and Their Money, and founder of SafeSave, a microfinance institution in Bangladesh. Orlanda Ruthven recently completed a doctoral degree in international development at the University of Oxford.

Paperback/ Rs 325/ ISBN 81-7824-289-3 / South Asia rights only/ Copublished with Princeton University Press