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Showing posts from May, 2013


Ranajitda and the Mysticism of Knowing Dipesh Chakrabarty Dipesh Chakrabarty is the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor in History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago What has always made Ranajitda unique in my eyes is his capacity to love prose that expresses the subtlest of ideas. I have not another teacher or a friend who would point to a sentence or even a phrase in a book, and instead of immediately moving on to its propositional content, would take time out to savor not only that which may have been simply beautiful about it but also dwell and exult over the way the sentence or the phrase or the word in question may have actually helped the proposition come into play. Sometimes, when he could, Ranajitda would break open a word – etymologically, grammatically, historically – to show how its multiple meanings not only destabilized the proposition we were trying to extract from it but actually endowed the

Shahid Amin and Chris Gregory on Ranajit Guha

90 th Birthday Tribute to Ranajit Guha Chris Gregory Chris Gregory is Reader in Anthropology at the Australian National University I was po stdoctoral student in anthropology in Cambridge when Ranajit and his team launched their critique of elitist historiography in 1982. Ranajit was based in Canberra. When I returned to Australia in 1984 to take up a junior lecturing position in Anthropology at ANU I was looking forward to making his acquaintance because, among other things, my area of interest had switched from Melanesia to India.   I knew little of Indian history and I figured it was wise to swat up on his writings before I made his acquaintance; after all, his reputation in Cambridge was formidable. I began with Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency (EAPI), a book that bowled me over in much the same way that reading Marx’s Capital and Lévi-Strauss Elementary Structures of Kinship (ESK) had.   Like Capital and ESK , not only did the richness of the c


The word 'legendary' is a great favourite in India. No-one is famous any longer, everyone is 'legendary'. A great teacher will seldom be referred to as a great teacher, he will seem to lack status unless he is referred to as a legendary teacher. Authors sometimes refer to their editors as 'legendary': to have had a legendary editor bestows status on the author. You can't nowadays be much of an author if your editor isn't legendary. So these days there is hardly an editor in publishing who, a year into his job, is not already legendary. In patriarchal India, such editors are invariably male despite the majority of editors in publishing being female. Memorable history and economics teachers, specially if they're Bong and have been at Presidency, are all legends. Is this an ungenerous view and the issue trivial? Indians can be likeably effusive. Their excessive praise may simply indicate strength of affection and regard. Sushobhan Sarkar and Jadunath


--> We continue the 90th birthday tributes to Ranajit Guha with these two pieces by Nonica Datta of the University of Delhi, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak of Columbia University Photo of Mechthild and Ranajit Guha by Nonica Datta 90 th BIRTHDAY TRIBUTES TO RANAJIT GUHA A Point in Time:   Purkersdorf Nonica Datta Nonica Datta teaches history at the University of Delhi In February 2008, I travelled by train from Vienna to Purkersdorf to meet Ranajit Guha. I was excited about meeting him. I had taught myself to read his works. I had been inspired by his style, language, and critique of the Enlightenment. I was influenced by his exposé of elitism in South Asian historiography, and his engagement with complexity, ambivalence, and alternatives in history. Among my favourite essays were ‘Chandra’s Death’ and ‘The Small Voice of History’. On my train journey through the Vienna woods, some inner demons gnawed at me. What if Guha thinks I’m a Bengali and he j


Ranajit Guha is 90 years old on 23 May 2013. We give below the first of several short birthday tributes to him.   90 th BIRTHDAY TRIBUTES TO RANAJIT GUHA Richard Price Richard Price is Ranajit Guha’s first PhD student. He is at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.        I first encountered Ranajit Guha as a second year undergraduate at the University of Sussex in 1964.   I had always been interested in the history of the British Empire, and when he offered a class on “European Imperialism from 1870” I enrolled.    He became my mentor;   he served as my D.Phil. advisor, even though my topic (British working class attitudes towards imperialism in the late nineteenth century) was far from his main area of interest in Indian History.               From the very start Ranajit held a charismatic attraction for me.   Part of this, it must be admitted, lay in the exotic aura that he projected.   He was the first person I had ever encountered wh


Delhi University’s vice chancellor, Dinesh Singh, was once a well-reputed mathematician. His career suggests that there was a time when he knew things add up, that there are good and bad ways of getting things done. When he was a teacher of mathematics he listened to people, or at least managed a decent impression of possessing the capacity for hearing. So, when he became vice chancellor, even people who know that power corrupts were cautiously optimistic. Dinesh Singh, it was felt, might buck the trend. He seemed interested in wielding a sensible broom to improve things on the ground for students and teachers. There was no hint, at the time, of what was to ensue—that the broom in his hand would go between his legs and become a witch’s. Now, in the opinion of virtually every respected academic and teacher at the University of Delhi, and close by at JNU and Jamia as well—see the opinion HERE of the economist Jayati Ghosh at JNU, and HERE of the historian Mukul Kesavan at Jamia


A large number of our titles are available as affordable paperbacks. Links to the price and page extents of the recently published paperbacks are below: just click on the book titles below and you will be taken to the website of our distributors, Orient Blackswan. From there it's just a few easy steps to buying the books online.          If you want to know which of our books are available in paperback, just type the title you're looking for into the search box of the Orient Blackswan website, which has our complete catalogue. All the available editions of that book will then be listed for you.   PRACHI DESHPANDE Creative Pasts PARTHA CHATTERJEE The Black Hole of Empire     DHARMANAND KOSAMBI The Essential Writings


Reviewed in THE TELEGRAPH, Kolkata, on 10 May 2013 RETHINKING SARVEPALLI GOPAL REFORMULATING SARVEPALLI GOPAL RE-FORMING SARVEPALLI GOPAL REMAKING SARVEPALLI GOPAL RE-CREATING SARVEPALLI GOPAL RECASTING SARVEPALLI GOPAL REVISITING SARVEPALLI GOPAL RECONSTRUCTING SARVEPALLI GOPAL REJIGGING SARVEPALLI GOPAL REBOOTING SARVEPALLI GOPAL READJUSTING SARVEPALLI GOPAL REMEDYING SARVEPALLI GOPAL REINCARNATING SARVEPALLI GOPAL RESURRECTING SARVEPALLI GOPAL RE-JADUFYING SARVEPALLI GOPAL (at this point we've run out of 'Re' titles so beloved of Indian historians, so why don't you just read on below while we think up some more) The rare exception apart, the dead Indian historian is a forgotten Indian historian. Paradigms shift. Footnotes follow the new fashions: very soon not even Foucault will feature in them, never mind Subaltern Studies . So, Sarvepalli Gopal is dismisse