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Showing posts from 2016


In 1921 a travelling sadhu appeared by a river bund in Dacca. He was there every day. Soon, people began to identify him as none other than the Second Kumar of Bhawal, a young zamindar who had died twelve years earlier. His wife denounced him as an impostor. His sisters welcomed him back. This resulted in one of the most extraordinary legal cases in Indian history: it held the entire country’s attention for several decades as it unwound in courts from Dacca and Calcutta to London. This is possibly the most riveting work of history ever written in the Indian subcontinent. Ever since it first appeared, Partha Chatterjee’s  A Princely Impostor?  (2002), a telling of the notorious “Bhawal Sannyasi Case”—among India’s best-known legal disputes—has been recognized as world-class narrative history in a league of its own.  Chatterjee has written a book as spell-binding as any great Victorian or Russian novel, a story replete with courtroom drama, sexual debauchery, fami


UDAYA KUMAR WITH THE FIRST COPY OF HIS BOOK  Why did autobiographical writings emerge in Kerala more than a century ago? What were the social, material and cultural features that motivated individuals to write personal histories and memoirs? This book shows the complex ways in which private recollections and the use of memory for loosely literary ends, also entailed the production of history by another name. Udaya Kumar analyses this period of social transformation to show the emergence of new resources for the self-relective writer, as well as of new idioms of expression. Among the many genres and forms he studies are anti-caste writings, works advocating spiritual and social reorientation, monologic poetry and early novels in Malayalam. Sree Narayana Guru’s thought, the portrayal of women and desire in Kumaran Asan’s poetry and the fictional worlds created by major novelists of this period (such as O. Chandu Menon and C. V. Raman Pillai), says Udaya Kumar, excited f
BOOK LAUNCH DALIT STUDIES, edited by Ramnarayan S. Rawat and K. Satyanarayana FRIDAY, 22, JULY 2016, 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. Gulmohar Hall, 1st Floor, Indian Habitat Centre Lodi Road, New Delhi (Entry Gate #3) Appetizers & Drinks 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Also at English and Foreign Language University (EFLU), Hyderabad, July 26 2016 in the afternoon -- time to be specified.


RG on 13 July 2016 with the new edn of his old classic. Photo courtesy Rudrangshu Mukherjee On 13 July 2016, Rudrangshu Mukherjee visited Vienna and presented Ranajit Guha with the  'first copy' of the new edition. This new edition includes two newly commissioned essays on A Rule of Property for Bengal, one each by Partha Chatterjee and Rudrangshu Mukher jee “. . . a pioneering work on the intellectual origins  of [the Permanent Settlement]”— Holden Furber  (1964) This third, attractively re-set, edition of a seminal work that has been in print since 1963 includes two new essays by Partha Chatterjee and Rudrangshu Mukherjee. Together, they position this book within Indian historiography and reveal precisely why it remains indispensable for anyone involved in thinking seriously about colonial rule and the making of modern South Asia. The infamous Permanent Settlement of Bengal in the eighteenth century was the most


The contributors to this major intervention into Indian historiography trace the strategies through which Dalits have been marginalized as well as the ways Dalit intellectuals and leaders have shaped emancipatory politics in modern India. Moving beyond the anticolonialism/nationalism binary that dominates the study of India, the contributors assess the benefits of colonial modernity and place humiliation, dignity, and spatial exclusion at the center of Indian historiography. Several essays discuss the ways Dalits used the colonial courts and legislature to gain minority rights in the early twentieth century, while others highlight Dalit activism in social and religious spheres. The contributors also examine the struggle of contemporary middle-class Dalits to reconcile their caste and class, intercaste tensions among Sikhs, and the efforts by Dalit writers to challenge dominant constructions of secular and class-based citizenship while emphasizing the ongoing destructiveness o

The religion of Gandhi: A Conversation about Satyagraha

Ajay Skaria talks with Omair Ahmad  about his new book     Excerpts from this conversation were published earlier in The Wire) It is rare to speak of “religion” in the political domain these days, and you mention your own difficulties in breaking out of the secular mould to read Gandhi in this light. Could you explain? I must confess that, like most others who had come of intellectual age as part of the Indian left, I was for long suspicious of Gandhi because of his overt religiosity. Certainly, if you had asked me as late as 2000 whether there was any chance that I would work on Gandhi, I would have emphatically said “no.” And I would have said so partially because both as a college student, and later in my work in adivasi regions, I often encountered too many Gandhians running ashrams that effectively practiced an upper caste Hinduism. Even now, to my mind, his Hinduism as a social phenomenon likely enabled the later rise of Hindutva. I was drawn into Gandhi’s wri

Indian Express (11 June 2016) Review of Charu Gupta, THE GENDER OF CASTE

Thomas R Trautmann reviews Nayanjot Lahiri's ASHOKA IN ANCIENT INDIA

--> Nayanjot Lahiri. A shoka in A ncient India. R e vi ew e d b y Thomas R. T rautmann ( Uni v ersity of Michigan) Publish e d on H - A sia (Ma y 2016) Commission e d b y Sumit Guha A shoka is one of the most r emarkable figu r es of the ancient w orld.   W e a r e fortunate to ha v e a n e w biogra phy of him by the eminent historian and a r cha e ologist of ancient India P r ofessor Nayanjot Lahiri of, aptl y , the n e wly c r eat e d A shoka Uni v ersit y . P r ofessor Lahiri aim e d to write a biography of A shoka for a general audienc e , and in doing so to r eli e v e   the grind of an administra ti v e job at Delhi Uni v ersit y ,   whe r e   she then was.     She has succ ee d e d admirably at the first and, I take it f r om the ch e e r y g oo d natu r e e vident in the writing, at the s e c ond as w ell.   Issues of e vidence and in