22 May 2014


The Discovery of Ancient India
Early Archaeologists and the Beginnings of Archaeology

“... tells the tale through the life histories of monuments, through the motivations and tensions that marked British rule in India and, above all, through those individuals who pioneered a shift from a textual depiction of India's past to one based on archaeology” — Nayanjot Lahiri, India Today

The Chanda Yakshi graces this gorgeous new cover for Upinder Singh's indispensable book, written as much for the general reader interested in India’s antiquity and its pioneering archaeologists, as for students of the history of archaeology, colonialism, and constructions of the past. It breaks colonial archaeology down into its specific constituents and examines the ideas, impulses, tensions, and individual contributions that comprised early studies of India’s ancient past.
It focuses, at the outset, on the ideas and work of Alexander Cunningham, the first Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, as well as his assistants. It then looks at a number of related issues — the different definitions of archaeological research; the conflict between field archaeologists and architectural scholars; the debate over whether antiquities should be left in situ or removed to museums; the different approaches and initiatives towards the conservation of historical monuments.
Finally, it looks at the contributions of Indian scholars to archaeology, and of the Indian princes to the conservation of historical monuments.

UPINDER SINGH is Professor of History, Delhi University. Her earlier books include Ancient Delhi (2004) and A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India (2008)

Paperback/Rs 450/ ISBN 817824127-7/ World rights

New in Paperback

Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam
Writing the Mughal World
Studies in Political Culture
In this book, two leading historians of early modern South Asia present nine jointly authored essays on the Mughal empire, framed by a long Introduction which reflects on the imperial, nationalist, and other conflicted trajectories of history-writing on the Mughals. Using materials from a large variety of languages—including Dutch, Portuguese, English, Persian, Urdu, and Tamil—they show how this Indo-Islamic dynasty developed a sophisticated system of government and facilitated an era of profound artistic and architectural achievement, setting the groundwork for South Asia’s future trajectory.
In several ways the joint work of Alam and Subrahmanyam, best represented here, provides the most significant innovation, expansion, and rethinking about the Mughal imperium for many decades. The present book intertwines political, cultural, and commercial themes while exploring diplomacy, state-formation, historiography, religious debate, and political thought. It focuses on confrontations between a variety of source materials that are then reconciled by the authors, enabling readers to participate both in the debate and the resolution of competing claims.
Interdisciplinary and cutting-edge, this work adds rich dimensions to research on the Mughal state, early modern South Asia, and the comparative history of the Mughal, Ottoman, Safavid, and other early modern empires.
MUZAFFAR ALAM is George V. Bobrinskoy Professor in South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Crisis of Empire in Mughal North India and The Languages of Political Islam in India: c. 1200–1800.
SANJAY SUBRAHMANYAM is professor and holder of the Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair of Indian History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of several books, including The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama and the two-volume Explorations in Connected History.
Alam and Subrahmanyam have jointly edited The Mughal State 1526–1750 and coauthored Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discoveries, 1400–1800.
paperback / 536pp / Rs 595  / South Asia rights / May 2014 / copublished by columbia university press

02 May 2014

The Story of a Book

This is the story of how Deki, a wild, freedom-seeking mountain dog, allowed itself to be tied to Permanent Black. Written by the celebrated biologist George Schaller, DEKI, THE ADVENTURES OF A DOG AND A BOY IN TIBET, has just been published by Black Kite and Hachette India (and is available from most standard retail outlets).

I first encountered George Schaller in Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard, a book that won the US’s National Book Award for its passionate and profound account of a journey through Nepal and Tibet in search of the elusive leopard. Matthiessen’s companion on this journey is Schaller (throughout called GS), and the book is also an account of the tense and halting evolution of a travel friendship:

“What seems abrasive in GS’s behaviour is often merely abrupt… but as I learn more about this man, I see that … on a hard journey such consideration (extended also to the sherpas) is far more valuable than mere ‘good manners’ … In the lowlands, GS was a formal man who could not quite communicate his feelings; in the freedom of the snow mountains he is opening out in true, warm colours.”
George Schaller (courtesy of George Schaller)
Fortunately for me, I met George Schaller in the highlands -- at the Winterline Literary Festival in Landour, Mussoorie in 2010. One of Permanent’s Black’s publishing interests is wildlife and environmental studies and one of George Schaller’s books is The Deer and the Tiger, a landmark study of wildlife in India published in 1967 and still cited everywhere. Did he, by some miracle, have a manuscript we could publish? GS promised that, some day, he would give us a book. I attributed it to the mountain air, expected nothing of it. And then, a few months later, DEKI arrived -- as promised.

DEKI is a magical book that will have you instantly under its spell. It is a blend of great story-telling and acute observation of nature and animals. As you read it you travel the stark, barren plateau of Tibet and discover its animals, monasteries, birds, nomads. Thrilling chases and cliff-hanger moments decide the battle between good and evil as the book explores the question: freedom or security, which do you choose?

The book is illustrated by an artist from the Tibetan art collective, Gyurmey Dorjee. It is aimed at young adults, which is why, instead of publishing it in our own Nature, Culture, Enviornment series, we copublished it with Hachette India, who have a thriving children’s list.

One eleven-year-old, Abhishek Roy from South City School, Kolkata, who reviewed DEKI for Permanent Black said:
"I thought the book was absolutely touching. It was a novel that inspires hope, and gives inspiration. … This book made me feel like I was walking through the cold mountains of Tibet, shivering. Overall, I liked this book a lot.”

In other reviews, The Telegraph said:
"Schaller weaves a story that moves with the 'clouds, wild winds and seasons' and is full of the richness of emotion associated with friendships, farewells, the heavy, fulfilling relationship between man and animal and the mystery that is Tibet. While Schaller’s imagining of Deki is undeniably anthropomorphic, this does not detract from the charm of her character. This book is a triumph on many counts, not the least of them being the delightful illustrations by Gyurmey Dorjee."

Indian Nerve said:
"The characters have been strikingly detailed, and the backgrounds well sketched. The captivating illustrations by Gyurmey Dorjee are just another win for the book, and assist the narrative with all their vivid imagery. Deki is pictured in an anthropomorphic form, and that further connects her with the young readers. Schaller peppers in his book richness of all emotions, and glorifies them all the more with the many friendships and farewells accounted for in those pages. Be it animal-animal friendship among Deki, Tashi and Changku or the man-animal friendship between Deki and Karma, there is an underlying wisdom channelled through each of these relationships. This book also forms a tribute to the charm and enigma that is Tibet."

Published by Black Kite and Hachette India Children's Books/Paperback/144 pp/ ISBN 9789350098479/ Rs 250
(Posted by Anuradha Roy)

01 May 2014


At the Edges of Empire
Essays in the Social and Intellectual History of India

THIRTY YEARS AGO, A BOOK TITLED Caste, Conflict and Ideology:  Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Low Caste Protest in Nineteenth-Century Western India (1985) astonished the world of South Asian Studies, in part because it brilliantly historicized Mahatma Phule and his context, in part because the author was neither a Chitpavan or any other variety of Maharashtrian Brahman but a SOAS scholar who had mined the Marathi sources bewilderingly well. Professor O’Hanlon’s book soon acquired the status of a classic academic work on the history of Maharashtra as well as early Dalit struggle. Most agree that it has not been superseded (it is available in South Asia with a new Introduction as a Permanent Black paperback), in part because it is extremely accessible and attractively written.

Over the last two decades, Rosalind O’Hanlon has engaged with key questions in India’s history, culture, and intellectual life. At the Edges of Empire is the first major collection of her essays. They reflect her interest both in the leading theoretical debates of recent years, particularly in the Subaltern Studies project, and in the development of novel and path-breaking approaches to questions about caste, gender, and religious cultures across a range of historical milieus.  

Some of the essays here explore the new perspectives on colonial social change opened up by the expanding knowledge of India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Others explore important and little-understood aspects of popular culture, from histories of the male body over the longue durĂ©e, to the institutional framework within which ordinary Hindus developed their understandings of sin and purification. 

The essays range over a broad chronological period, from the development of new understandings of Brahman community and intellectual identity in early modern India, to the modern conflict over the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya. In different ways, each of the essays demonstrates the potential of longer-term historical perspectives for advancing our understanding of pressing issues in India’s colonial past and its present-day  politics.   

ROSALIND O’HANLON is Professor of Indian History and Culture in the University of Oxford.  She took her PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and taught for many years at  Clare College, Cambridge.  Her research interests lie in the social and intellectual history of early modern and colonial India.

Hardback / 560pp / Rs 995 / ISBN 81-7824-381-4 / World rights / May 2014