06 August 2017

SONS OF SARASVATI

Traditional Indian panditya (scholarship) has a long and distinguished history, but is now practically extinct. Its decline is remarkably recent — traditional panditya flourished as recently as 150 years ago. The decline is also paradoxical, having occurred precipitously following a broad and remarkable flowering of the tradition between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. The important questions this decline poses are the subject of much ongoing work. The intellectual history of the period is still under construction, and the present book represents a major contribution to the edifice.

A notable impediment has been the lack of critical biographies of significant thinkers in this tradition. The importance of personal and social context for reconstructing intellectual histories is widely understood. In the classical Indian intellectual tradition, however, authors systematically exclude such context, making intellectual biography something of a rarity — very rare in English and sparse even in the regional languages.

This book contains translations from the original Kannada of the biographies of Garalapuri Shastri, Shrikanta Shastri, and Kunigala Ramashastri of nineteenth-century Mysore, all representing the highest echelons of traditional panditya at this critical period of transition. Their fields are literature, grammar, and logic, respectively. The biographies focus on the personal lives of these scholars and their many contexts.

These biographies are almost contemporaneous accounts, reflecting first-hand knowledge. The translations are accompanied by copious footnotes as well as appendices drawn from the relevant primary sources.


CHINYA. V. RAVISHANKAR has pursued life-long interests in the humanities as well as in science and technology.  He is Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. He has been on the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and has a Ph.D. in Computer Sciences from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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03 August 2017

LAW AND IDENTITY IN COLONIAL SOUTH ASIA

“A model of how social history stands to gain from a fuller use of legal sources.”
C. S. Adcock, American Historical Review

“An invaluable contribution…arguably the most important work to date in [Parsi studies].” 
Simin Patel, Law and History Review

“ … formidably intricate story of legal change … the author has achieved something remarkable. A community and its laws are explained.”
Raymond Cocks, Journal of Legal History

Winner of the 2015 J. Willard Hurst Award
for best book in socio-legal history, Law and Society Association


LAW AND IDENTITY IN COLONIAL SOUTH ASIA
Parsi Legal Culture • 1772–1947

by MITRA SHARAFI


This book explores the legal culture of the Parsis, or Zoroastrians, an ethnoreligious community unusually invested in the colonial legal system of British India and Burma.

Rather than trying to maintain collective autonomy and integrity by avoiding interaction with the state, the Parsis sank deep into the colonial legal system itself. From the late eighteenth century until India’s independence in 1947, they became heavy users of colonial law, acting as lawyers, judges, litigants, lobbyists, and legislators. They de-Anglicized the law that governed them and enshrined in law their own distinctive models of the family and community by two routes: frequent intragroup litigation often managed by Parsi legal professionals in the areas of marriage, inheritance, religious trusts, and libel, and the creation of legislation that would become Parsi personal law.

Other South Asian communities also turned to law, but none seems to have done so earlier or in more pronounced ways than the Parsis.

Read an excerpt here, at Bombaywallah

MITRA SHARAFI is an associate professor of Law and Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with an affiliation appointment in History. Her work has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals and has been recognized by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council in the USA.

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A RASA READER: CLASSICAL INDIAN AESTHETICS

EDITOR AND TRANSLATOR: SHELDON POLLOCK

From the early years of the Common Era to 1700, Indian intellectuals explored with unparalleled subtlety the place of emotion in art. Their investigations led to the deconstruction of art's formal structures and broader inquiries into the pleasure of tragic tales. Rasa, or taste, was the word they chose to describe art's aesthetics, and their passionate effort to pin down these phenomena became its own remarkable act of creation.
     This book is the first in any language to follow the evolution of rasa from its origins in dramaturgical thought—a concept for the stage—to its flourishing in literary thought—a concept for the page. A Rasa Reader incorporates primary texts by every significant thinker on classical Indian aesthetics, many never translated before.
     The arrangement of the selections captures the intellectual dynamism that has powered this debate for centuries. Headnotes explain the meaning and significance of each text, a comprehensive introduction summarizes major threads in intellectual-historical terms, and critical endnotes and an extensive bibliography add further depth to the selections.
     The Sanskrit theory of emotion in art is one of the most sophisticated in the ancient world. A Rasa Reader's conceptual detail, historical precision, and clarity will appeal to any scholar interested in a full portrait of global intellectual development.

"It is a pleasure to follow the various streams of argument that Pollock traces through the classical texts. A poet does not pour forth rasa until he himself overflows with it, so it is with this insightful scholar. This is indeed a source book for rasa. What now remains is for regional scholars to take up and continue the debate on why and how aesthetics came to be subjugated to or dominated by knowledge. This could help us understand ourselves a little better by coming to terms with art and literature and reintegrating with the world at large."
 Murali Sivaramakrishnan, The Hindu

SHELDON POLLOCK is the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of Sanskrit and South Asian Studies at Columbia University. His publications include Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia (2003); The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India (2006); and World Philology (2015). He is founding general editor of the Murty Classical Library of India, recipient of the Padma Shri award from the Government of India, and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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02 August 2017

Provisional Authority: Police, Order, and Security in India


Hindi noir meets the banalities of everyday life in the police barracks and tea shops
of Uttar Pradesh



Policing as a global form is often fraught with excessive violence, corruption, and even criminalization. These sorts of problems are especially omnipresent in postcolonial nations such as India, where Beatrice Jauregui has spent several years studying the day-to-day lives of police officers in its most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. In this book, she offers an empirically rich and theoretically innovative look at the great puzzle of police authority in contemporary India and its relationship to social order, democratic governance, and security.

Jauregui explores the paradoxical demands placed on Indian police, who are at once routinely charged with abuses of authority at the same time that they are asked to extend that authority into any number of both official and unofficial tasks. Her ethnography of their everyday life and work demonstrates that police authority is provisional in several senses: shifting across time and space, subject to the availability and movement of resources, and dependent upon shared moral codes and relentless instrumental demands. In the end, she shows that police authority in India is not simply a vulgar manifestation of raw power or the violence of law but, rather, a contingent and volatile social resource relied upon in different ways to help realize human needs and desires in a pluralistic, postcolonial democracy.


Provocative and compelling, Provisional Authority provides a rare and disquieting look inside the world of police in India, and shines critical light on an institution fraught with moral, legal and political contradictions.

Beatrice Jauregui is assistant professor at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto. She is coeditor of the Handbook of Global Policing and Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency.

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