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Showing posts from May, 2012


Davesh Soneji Unfinished G estures Devadasis, Memory, and Modernity in South India Unfinished Gestures presents the social and cultural history of courtesans in South India who are generally called devadasis , focusing on their encounters with colonial modernity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Following a hundred years of vociferous social reform, including a 1947 law that criminalized their lifestyles, the women in devadasi communities contend with severe social stigma and economic and cultural disenfranchisement. Adroitly combining ethnographic fieldwork with historical research, Davesh Soneji provides a comprehensive portrait of these marginalized women and unsettles received ideas about relations among them, the aesthetic roots of their performances, and the political efficacy of social reform in their communities. DAVESH SONEJI is associate professor of South Asian religions at McGill University. He is coeditor of Performing Pasts: Rei


Partha Chatterjee The Black Hole of Empire History of a Global Practice of Power When Siraj, the ruler of Bengal, overran the British settlement of Calcutta in 1756, he allegedly jailed 146 European prisoners overnight in a cramped prison. Of the group, 123 died of suffocation. While this episode was never independently confirmed, the story of “the black hole of Calcutta” was widely circulated and seen by the British public as an atrocity committed by savage colonial subjects. The Black Hole of Empire follows the ever-changing representations of this historical event and founding myth of the British Empire in India, from the eighteenth century to the present. Partha Chatterjee explores how a supposed tragedy paved the ideological foundations for the “civilizing” force of British imperial rule and territorial control in India. Chatterjee takes a close look at the justifications of modern empire by liberal thinkers, international lawyers, and conservative

Ramachandra Guha and Sunil Khilnani recommend ...

Nico Slate Colored Cosmopolitanism The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the  United States and India A hidden history connects India and the United States, the world’s two largest democracies. From the late nineteenth century through the 1960s, activists worked across borders of race and nation to push both countries toward achieving their democratic principles. At the heart of this shared struggle, African Americans and Indians forged bonds ranging from statements of sympathy to coordinated acts of solidarity. Within these two groups, certain activists developed a colored cosmopolitanism, a vision of the world that transcended traditional racial distinctions. These men and women agitated for the freedom of the “colored world,” even while challenging the meanings of both color and freedom. Colored Cosmopolitanism is the first detailed examination of both ends of this transnational encounter. Nico Slate tells the stories of neglected h


D.R. Nagaraj Listening to the Loom Essays on Literature, Politics, and Violence Edited and with an Introduction by P RITHVI D ATTA C HANDRA S HOBHI D.R. Nagaraj (1954–1998) has been widely recognized as among India’s most important thinkers in the broad area of cultural politics. Until now, his English writings have only been available in book form as The Flaming Feet and Other Essays (1993; 2 nd revised edition, Permanent Black, 2010), a work centred on the Dalit movement in India. Now, for the first time, a largely unknown and unavailable corpus of Nagaraj’s ideas and essays, amplifying and supplementing those in The Flaming Feet , are published in Listening to the Loom . This book provides Nagaraj’s most important writings on literature, politics, and violence. Some of the thirteen pieces here are translated from Kannada into English for the first time, while others long unavailable have been hunted out from scattered sources. The title o

Kosambi: The Third Generation

Meera Kosambi editor and translator Women Writing Gender Marathi Fiction Before Independence Most modern literatures were initially dominated by men who claimed, at times, to speak for women. But when given an opportunity, women spoke differently. This book tells the several stories of how Maharashtrian women found a ‘voice’ in the late nineteenth century. It shows how they created a literary space for themselves, deploying fiction to depict worlds other than those available in male writing, as well as dreams and aspirations unseen in society before they were articulated by their fiction. Having been excluded from mainstream prose, women also created a parallel reform discourse which displayed various shades of feminism. After an introductory overview of men and women writers of Marathi fiction before Independence, this book presents in translation the work of six iconic women writers: Kashibai Kanitkar, Indirabai Sahasrabuddhe, Vibhavari Shirurkar,


CHRISTIAN LEE NOVETZKE made a splash when his book History, Bhakti, and Public Memory Namdev in Religious and Secular Traditions won the  BEST FIRST BOOK IN THE HISTORY OF RELIGION  awarded by the American Academy of Religion With the publication of Anne Fedhaus's translation of R.C. Dhere's history of Vitthal worship in Maharashtra and Meera Kosambi's translation of pioneering women novelists in that region, Permanent Black engaged with Professor Novetzke in the following conversation: Q1) An influential view of the current state of historical and literary scholarship pertaining to India is that of Sheldon (Shelly) Pollock, who remarks: 'the number of citizens capable of reading and understanding the texts and documents of the classical era—or precolonial or premodern or pre-1800 era, all equivalent terms for my purposes here—will very soon approach a statistical zero. India is about to become the only major world culture whose literary patrimony, an