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Showing posts from 2013


Mechthild Guha Danube, Ganges,  and Other Life Streams Mechthild Guha, nĂ©e Jungwirth, was born in 1943 in Germany and grew up in Austria. After a PhD in anthropology at Vienna she journeyed to Sussex for postdoctoral research. England was meant to be a staging point for her return to West Africa, where she had spent several months, and about which she published a book—on the history of Benin. Meeting Ranajit Guha at the University of Sussex changed all her plans. They married, lived for a time in England, then moved to Delhi, and then went to Canberra. Now retired, they live close to the Vienna woods. Of this short but deeply thoughtful memoir Mechthild Guha says: “It had never occurred to me that it would be possible to pack the memory of seventy years into a few pages. Nevertheless, out of an eventful and varied life, I have tried to select those aspects which not only speak of me but also the many people and places that make up my memories.” A lover of nature, c

Sunil Khilnani on 1971 and Srinath Raghavan; TCA Srinivasa-Raghavan on Sanjay Subrahmanyam

If there were textbooks teaching academics how to write their PhDs and subsequent books, this spoof would constitute excellent advice:   At the non-spoofy end you'd have Sunil Khilnani, who, even when he's just writing a book review, seems as a writer in nearly a class by himself ('nearly' only because he'd have one companion in that class: Mukul Kesavan): Neither entirely spoofy nor entirely serious is the style long adopted by TCA Srinivasa-Raghavan:


THE PRETTINESS OF RHINO MAIDENS AND OTHER UN-WAGNERIAN JUNGLEENESSES Mukul Kesavan by the inimitable        Mukul  Kesavan One day, in about 1981, looking in his pigeonhole at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he was an M.Phil. student,  Mukul Kesavan found a card from his supervisor Chris Bayly which included the line: ‘Cambridge isn ’ t yet a holiday resort!’ The implication was that Kesavan better move it a bit on things academic. Later, Bayly presciently wondered if a career in journalism might not suit Kesavan well.   A year or so later, while granting him his M.Phil., Kesavan’s external examiner Francis Robinson felt that with a little more effort the M.Phil. could be worked up into a Ph.D. Kesavan, thanking his stars for not having the money to work further at the wretched thesis, fled that corner of his foreign field happily clutching the M.Phil. Over the subsequent years he went back to Cambridge  often,  but mostly for the pleasure of punting on the Cam. T


All are welcome to this lecture by Professor Romila Thapar, chaired by  Professor Neeladri Bhattacharya


When Permanent Black signed on this book, the agreement was that it would include around 40-50 illustrations. In print, the book will have more than 200. How come? The reason is that the author is very persuasive. And he is very persuasive because he is both incredibly knowledgeable about his area of specialization, Telugu cinema, as well as enthusiastic about it to the point of being nuts. Facing a book which came in with four times the number of illustrations agreed to in the contract, it was surprisingly easy all the same for Permanent Black to say 'to hell with the agreement' because there is something quite special about this author's involvement in his subject. He has dug out an incredible array of songbook covers, film posters, and newspaper adverts from the most obscure and unknown private sources, and they are of immense value to his history. The other thing about this book is that you don't need to be a Film Studies wallah to follow it. Srini


Admirers of Kathryn Hansen's  Kathryn in Austin, Texas many contributions towards understanding North Indian culture, literature, and theatre will want to read this interview . It provides an excellent synoptic view of a scholar who has devoted a large part of her life to a deeply empathetic engagement with things Indian. Not many know that she played the sitar and became, when she first came to India, a friend of Nikhil Banerjee. Permanent Black was privileged to be approached by her to publish STAGES OF LIFE: INDIAN THEATRE AUTOBIOGRAPHIES (2011) , one of the most accessible, readable, and enthralling books on our list. In this she both contextualizes four important autobiographies by four theatre personalities from the days of the Parsi theatre, and translates all four from Hindustani/Gujarati into excellent contemporary English. Books by heavyweight scholars can seem intimidating; this isn't one of those. Kathryn Hansen entices you into the Bombay and Calcutta and

Before the Atom Bomb

Coming in September 2013 from Permanent Black It's a great new telling of the birth of nuclear India from the 1930s to the late 1950s. Jahnavi Phalkey is a lecturer in the history of sci-tech at King's College London and, long back, her PhD won the annual Sardar Patel Award for the best dissertation submitted at an American university on a South Asian topic. Since then she's been beavering away revising, discovering more material, rethinking and reformulating -- all the usual things that careful scholars spend years agonizing over before a publisher wrenches the script away from them. (JNU has at least two brilliant historians, Neeladri Bhattacharya and Indivar Kamtekar, who are still chewing their fingernails revising their PhDs: Permanent Black has assured them posthumous publication as well as medical expenses for possible onychomycosis. Curiously, these two share a birthday, so there may be something to astrology.) Phalkey demonstrates with hard evidence and irref


Niraja Gopal Jayal Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi Niraja Gopal Jayal whose book CITIZENSHIP AND ITS DISCONTENTS: AN INDIAN HISTORY (Permanent Black and Harvard University Press, 2013) has been published to profuse critical acclaim, is interviewed here by  Madhav Khosla Madhav Khosla (PhD Candidate, Department of Government, Harvard University). Q1. It is sometimes felt that a strictly legal conception of citizenship, as it were, can work against more participatory forms of citizenship. Do you feel that some inclusionary forms of citizenship are reflections of deeper failures? A1. That, in a sense, is my point of departure in this book: equality is the premise and the promise of citizenship, but it is also, and precisely because of this aspiration to equality, an embattled and endlessly contested political project. Take legal citizenship: it is certainly true that the denial of legal c