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Showing posts from 2017

Living Class in Urban India: by Sara Dickey

Honorable Mention in the  Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy  Book Prize 2018 "She achieves an extraordinarily intimate understanding of her subjects' circumstances" Economic and Political Weekly  Many people still envision India as rigidly caste-bound, locked in traditions that inhibit social mobility. In reality, class mobility has long been an ideal, and today globalization is radically transforming how India’s citizens perceive class. Living Class in Urban India examines a nation in flux, bombarded with media images of middle-class consumers navigating the currents of capitalism and the inequality they can produce. Anthropologist Sara Dickey puts a human face on the issue of class in India, introducing four people who live in the “second-tier” city of Madurai: an auto-rickshaw driver, a graphic designer, a teacher of high-status English, and a domestic worker. Drawing from over thirty years of fieldwork, she considers how class is determined


“… here we see Sarkar grappling with his intellectual heritage, negotiating his own location within the new Marxist nationalist history of the period. Working within its frame, he pushes at the boundaries, disturbing neat classificatory schemes, resisting false historical comparisons, problematizing categories, and questioning linear narratives. The desire to explore contrary experiences and contradictory pictures is part of his process of questioning” NEELADRI BHATTACHARYA For the past forty years or more, the most influential, respected, and popular scholar of modern Indian history has been Sumit Sarkar. When his first monograph, The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal 1903–1908 , appeared in 1973 it soon became obvious that the book represented a paradigm shift within its genre. As Dipesh Chakrabarty put it when the work was republished in 2010: “Very few monographs, if any, have ever rivalled the meticulous research and the thick description that characterised this book, or the luc


“Jean Drèze is one of the world’s finest development economists. He works in a space that is widely but incorrectly ignored by most. The practical implications of evidence-based economics cannot be worked through without engaging all of society in democratic discussion, including (especially) those who are working for change. Economics itself fails without that engagement. In this collection of beautiful essays, some previously unpublished, Drèze uses economics, philosophy, and his extensive practical experience to illuminate the whole range of social policy in India. Read on!” ANGUS DEATON Nobel Laureate, Economic Sciences, 2015 Photograph of Jean Dreze copyright Anuradha Roy   Jean Drèze has a rare and distinctive understanding of the Indian economy and its relationship with the social life of ordinary people. He has travelled widely in rural India and done fieldwork of a kind that few economists have attempted. This has enabled him to make invaluable contributions not only


If you missed these books when they came out in hardback it's time to get them now. Bodies of Song by Linda Hess Buy at Rs 595 Text and Tradition in South India , by Velcheru Narayana Rao Buy at Rs 695 Beyond Caste , by Sumit Guha Buy at Rs 595 Print and Pleasure , by Francesca Orsini Buy at Rs 595 Dalit Studies, edited by Ramnarayan S. Rawat and K. Satyanarayana Buy at Rs 595 Unconditional Equality , by Ajay Skaria Buy at Rs 595  Nature and Nation , by Mahesh Rangarajan Buy at Rs 595  Writing the First Person , by Udaya Kumar Buy at Rs 595 The Gender of Caste , by Charu Gupta Buy at Rs 595

Jean Dreze: Undefeated Road Scholar

Jean Dreze was gifted the first copy of his new book, Sense and Solidarity: Jholawala Economics for Everyone , at a pine-cone studded book-launch yesterday. The launch took place at the corporate headquarters of Permanent Black in Ranikhet, Uttarakhand.  A huge audience of deodar trees attended, listening to every word in rapt silence. Chief Guest Prakriti Mukerjee has been among Jean's band of road scholars, being one of the many students who camped for days in remote villages working on NREGA and PDS surveys through baking summer weather. She is now Research and Communication Officer at Lok Chetna Manch, Ranikhet, and she took time out of her busy schedule to hand over a be-ribonned copy of the book to Jean, as pictured below. Jean's new book, a superb combination of scholarship, passion, and commitment, is that rarest of things: a work of scholarship that is gripping and accessible. Angus Deaton, Nobel Laureate, who calls Dreze "one of the world's f


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 s


“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


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 tex

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 p


Nayanjot Lahiri wins a major international prize for her biography of Ashoka  (also included below is the IESHR review of May 2017) October 3, 2016 Washington, DC — Nayanjot Lahiri of Ashoka University has been selected as the winner of the 2016 John F. Richards Prize for her book Ashoka in Ancient India (Permanent Black and Harvard University Press, 2015). The Richards Prize is awarded annually by the American Historical Association (AHA) to honour the best book in South Asian history. The prize will be awarded during a ceremony at the Association’s 131st Annual Meeting in Denver, CO, in January 2017. Professor Lahiri’s biography was edited and typeset at Permanent Black, India’s leading academic publisher, and will be available in paperback later this month. (The American edition was offset from the Indian edition and published by Harvard University Press.) The series in which the South Asia edition appears, called “Hedgehog and Fox”, conceived and managed by

Out soon in paperback: WRITING THE FIRST PERSON

"… written in lucid prose, Kumar’s rich cultural history is an important addition not only to Kerala Studies but to South Asian Studies at large"  The Book Review WRITING THE FIRST PERSON Literature, History, and Autobiography in Modern Kerala Out now in paperback 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 n

Fiction as History: An Extract

It was in 1964 that Nehru, the chief remaining embodiment of Indian political hope, died, leaving in his wake a vacuum that his successors soon distilled into a political cynicism and larger moral decline that marked the real break from the nationalist idealism that had begun fifty years earlier, with Jallianwalabagh and Gandhi’s arrival. And it was in 1968 that the ‘three language formula’, presaged by the foundation of linguistic states, was promulgated, making Hindi merely one of three languages taught in schools, putting paid to what had over the nationalist period been cast as a major objective of unification—Hindi as the sole national language of the country. There were furious anti-Hindi riots in 1966 across both North and South India, many of them bloody and destructive, the end result being the tacit acceptance and codification into a policy of the general preference for English in the upper echelons of society. It is for these reasons, then, that this book looks at t


"Her book is a lucid entry point for those unfamiliar with the Hindi novel in the past 150 odd years and offers a sharp analysis of tradition, nationalism, and modernity. " Shantam Goyal, The Print This book provides a panoramic view of the intellectual and cultural life of North India over a century – from the aftermath of the 1857 uprising to the end of the Nehruvian era. The North’s historical cities, rooted in an Indo-Persianate culture, began changing more slowly than the Presidency towns founded by the British. Focusing on six major cities – Agra, Allahabad, Banaras, Delhi, Lahore, and Lucknow – Dalmia takes up eight canonical Hindi novels set in them to trace a literary history of domestic and political cataclysms. Her exploration of emerging Hindu middle classes, changing personal and professional ambitions, and new notions of married life provides a vivid sense of urban modernity. She looks at the radical social transformations associated


In classical times, India’s diverse groups – whether defined by family or caste, professional or religious association – settled on a concept of law. How did they reach consensus? Was it based in religion or transcendent knowledge? Did it depend on time and place? What apparatus existed to ensure justice and fair verdicts? Addressing these questions and more, A Dharma Reader traces the definition and process of Indian law from the third century BCE to the middle ages. Its breadth captures the centuries-long struggle by Indian thinkers to theorize law in a complex society. The volume includes new and accessible translations of key texts, notes that explain the significance and chronology of selections, and a comprehensive introduction that summarizes the development of various disciplines in intellectual and historical terms. With exceptional detail and historical precision, this Reader provides unique insights into the legal interactions among India

Udaya Kumar On Writing the First Person

  Udaya Kumar on his new book, Writing the First Person. With V. Sanil, Mohinder Singh, Prathama Banerjee   Monday 20 March, 5 pm, CSDS seminar room 29 , Rajpur Road, Delhi.    

The Making of Indian Literature

The Writer of Modern Life Three scholars on the making of Indian literature By VINEET GILL  |  1 February 2017   "M odern writers and artists in India—and in other postcolonial countries—have always had to contend with the politics of cultural exchange between the colonised and the coloniser. When the Bengali critic Dineshchandra Sen, in a letter to the British historian EP Thompson, referred to Rabindranath Tagore as “a European writer of Bengali,” he was articulating a grievance against all cultural renegades. Yet far from being a failing on the part of the postcolonial writer or artist, the urge to cross over is essential to modernity. The scholar Rosinka Chaudhuri, in her 2014 book The Literary Thing —a fascinating study of the beginnings of modern poetry in Bengal—employs an interesting phrase to describe the phenomenon: “creative cross-contamination.” Let there be no doubt: the spirit of modernity is confused, many-hued, contaminated. How that spiri