Arvind K. Mehrotra is characteristically acerbic and thought-provoking in an interview in the Times of India today where he discusses his essays in Partial Recall and his original, brilliant translations of Kabir's poetry . Read the interview here.
Monika Mehta Censorship and Sexuality in Bombay Cinema India produces an impressive number of films each year in a variety of languages. Here, Monika Mehta breaks new ground by analyzing Hindi films and exploring the censorship of gender and heterosexuality in Bombay cinema. She studies how film censorship on various levels makes the female body and female sexuality pivotal in constructing national identity, not just through the films themselves but also through the heated debates that occur in newspapers and other periodicals. The standard claim is that the state dictates censorship and various prohibitions, but Mehta explores how relationships among the state, the film industry, and the public illuminate censorship’s role in identity formation, while also examining how desire, profits, and corruption are generated through the act of censoring. Committed to extending a feminist critique of mass culture in the global south, Mehta situates the story of censorship in
A.R. Venkatachalapathy The Province of the Book Scholars, Scribes, and Scribblers in Colonial Tamil n adu A.R. Venkatachalapathy, though still a young scholar by Indian standards, has been hailed as a savant of sorts for his knowledge of the culture, politics, and history of Tamilnadu. Of his wide and varied reading there is no lack of evidence within his new monograph just published by Permanent Black. This work, which focuses on the history and culture of books, book publishing, and book reading in Tamilnadu from the time of parchment to the time of Pagemaker, is interesting from the word go: it starts with four satirical epigraphs, three of which run as follows: In this age, when printing machines have become legion and the business in paper has expanded, novels have started to proliferate like termites.— review in Lakshmi (1924) Brother, listen to me. Take up some other occupation: never pursue this wretched profession of writing. Show me one person [in Tami
Mukul Sharma Green and Saffron Hindu Nationalism and Indian Environmental Politics This book examines contemporary environmental issues and movements in independent India on the one hand, and the development of Hindu conservative ideology and politics on the other. It includes the first thorough investigation of Anna Hazare’s movement in Maharashtra. Mukul Sharma argues that these two social currents—environmental conservation and Hindu politics—have forged bonds which reveal the hijacking of environmentalism by conservative and retrograde worldviews. This, he says, constitutes a major aspect of hinterland political life which neither academics nor journalists have seriously analysed. Environmentalism and politics cannot be seen as separate from each other, for environmental issues are being defined in new ways by an anti-secular form of Hinduism. In turn, Hindu ideologues are gaining mileage for their ideology by espousing major environmental projects. Anna Hazare’s impact
This month, PERMANENT BLACK is publishing Jayeeta Sharma's long awaited monograph on Assam, Empire's Garden . To coincide with its publication, we requested Professor Sumit Sarkar to ask his former student a few key questions about her book and professional interests. Their conversation is given below. SUMIT SARKAR: How far was your choice of Assam as research area conditioned by your affiliation to the place? Apart from the personal involvement, what else shaped your choice of Assam and its plantations -- especially as you are not a tea drinker yourself, if I remember correctly. JAYEETA SHARMA: As a young bookworm in Guwahati, I read all the history books that I could find, whether Gibbons or Gait. But I couldn’t stand the dates-and-events history the provincial Assam Board forced on students. Then I learnt that at Delhi University I could study social, cultural, and economic history. The next few years were a revelation, especially in my MA courses
Amiya P. Sen, editor Bankim’s Hinduism An Anthology of Writings by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay The great novelist and thinker Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (1838–94), associated with his famous hymn ‘Vande Mataram’, is sometimes seen as mainly a creator of Hindu nationalist icons. This is unfortunate, for Bankim was an enormously learned man, a deep and subtle thinker. A relatively unknown side of his work comprises his religious and philosophical thought, in particular his carefully argued ideas on Hinduism. This collection of Bankim’s writings—many translated into English for the first time and excerpted from the author’s Complete Works in the Bengali original—brings out some of the inner anxieties and ambivalence within the novelist-intellectual’s work on religion, ethics, and philosophy. By reading this book one may detect in Bankim a rational-functionalist approach to religion, as also a deepening faith and piety transcending that intellectual perspective. Bankim ant
Empire’s Garden Assam and the Making of India Jayeeta Sharma In the mid-nineteenth century the British created a landscape of tea plantations in the north-eastern Indian region of Assam. The tea industry filled imperial coffers and gave the colonial state a chance to transform a jungle-laden frontier into a cultivated system of plantations. Claiming that local peasants were indolent, the British soon began importing indentured labour from central India. In the twentieth century these migrants were joined by others who came voluntarily to seek their livelihoods. In Empire’s Garden , Jayeeta Sharma explains how the settlement of more than one million migrants in Assam irrevocably changed the region’s social landscape. She argues that the racialized construction of the tea labourer catalyzed a process by which Assam’s gentry sought to insert their homeland into an imagined Indo-Aryan community and a modern Indian political space. Various linguistic and racial claims allowed these
Sanjay Subrahmanyam Three Ways to be Alien Travails and Encounters in the Early Modern World This book looks at individual trajectories in an early modern global context . It draws on the lives and writings of a trio of marginal figures who were cast adrift from their traditional moorings into an unknown world. The subjects include v a “Persian” prince of Bijapur in Central India held hostage by the Portuguese at Goa v an English traveller and global schemer whose writings reveal a nimble understanding of realpolitik in the emerging world of the early seventeenth century v an insightful Venetian chronicler of the Mughal Empire in the later seventeenth century who drifted between jobs with the Mughals and various foreign entrepôts, observing all but remaining the eternal outsider In telling the fascinating story of floating identities in a changing world, Subrahmanyam injects humanity into global history and shows that biography still plays an impo