Skip to main content

WHEN DOES HISTORY BEGIN?

Religion, Narrative, and Identity in the Sikh Tradition





After a spell away because of lockdowns and printing holdups, we are back with long-awaited title. It was originated and edited here at Permanent Black, and we have sold rights for the world except South Asia to State University of New York Press (SUNY) which will publish it for North America and elsewhere.

 Read an excerpt in Scroll

Indian historiographical praxis has long been problematic. Al-Biruni, the eleventh-century polymath, was puzzled by how people in the subcontinent treated the protocols of history, not seeing that Indian narratives of the past, embedded in kavya traditions, represented a radical departure from historical narratives in the Islamic, Sinic, and Greco-Roman worlds. Where others tended to search for “facts”, people in South Asia looked for “affect”. This alternative for comprehending and evaluating the past – through aesthetics and gradients of taste – generated a different variety of historical consciousness.

Focusing on important issues in Sikh religious identity and memory, Harjot Oberoi shows what modern critical narrative achieves when it moves away from classical models of historiography. His examination of the Sikh tradition traverses significant moments in colonialism, encounters with modernity, coercion and protest in the Raj, the production of knowledge, the rise of secular nationalism, and modern notions of the self within and outside India.

This book on the variousness of truth-telling practices, ideas of the sacred, and sentiment-laden presuppositions asks us to look afresh at the writing of history – centrally in India, but also across the world.

HARJOT OBEROI, Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, is the author of The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition (University of Chicago Press and OUP Delhi, 1994), a classic work of modern Indian history which was awarded the Best First Book in the History of Religions Prize by the American Academy of Religion in 1995. His writings have appeared in Studies in History, Modern Asian Studies, Pacific Affairs, Panjab Past & Present, Journal of Sikh Studies, Economic and Political Weekly, Biblio, and The India Forum.

HB/ Rs 795/ BUY

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

THE GREAT AGRARIAN CONQUEST by NEELADRI BHATTACHARYA

BUY THE PAPERBACK       FROM THE REVIEWS   Review in SOCIAL HISTORY, USA by Benjamin Siegel The Great Agrarian Conquest represents a massive intervention into the contemporary historiography of South Asia, elaborating upon some conventional wisdom but upending a great deal more of it. Readers might well place this book in conversation with works like Ranajit Guha ’ s A Rule of Property for Bengal (1963) and Bernard Cohn ’ s Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge (1997), to which The Great Agrarian Conquest owes some preliminary inspiration. Yet what Bhattacharya o ff ers is a wholly original account of the transformation to agrarian colonialism . . .   Few volumes in South Asian history have been more awaited than this monograph, Neeladri Bhattacharya ’ s fi rst. One of the most celebrated mentors and researchers at New Delhi ’ s Jawaharlal Nehru University, Bhattacharya retired in 2017 after a decades-long career. His formal scholarly output, limited to sev

PARTHA CHATTERJEE: THE TRUTHS AND LIES OF NATIONALISM as narrated by Charvak

"While the Covid-19 pandemic was still raging in the autumn of 2020, I found, one evening, placed outside the door of my home in Kolkata, a sealed packet. Apparently, it had been left there sometime during the day. It did not come by post or any of the courier services that usually deliver mail because, if it had, someone would have rung the bell and I was home all day. In fact, the parcel did not bear any seal or inscription except my name and address written in English script in a confident cursive style rarely seen these days. My curiosity was aroused because the package did not look like a piece of junk mail. The thought that it might contain something more sinister did strike my mind – after all, the times were not exactly normal. But something in the look of the packet persuaded me that it should be examined. After dutifully spraying the packet with a disinfectant, I unwrapped it and found, within cardboard covers and neatly tied in red string, what looked like a manuscript

THE BOOK OF INDIAN ESSAYS

Indians have been writing prose for 200 years, and yet when we think of literary prose we think of the novel. The “essay”   brings only the school essay to mind. Those of us who read and write English in India might find it hard to name an essay even by someone like R.K. Narayan as easily as we would one of his novels, say Swami and Friends or The Guide . Our inability to recall essays is largely due to the strange paradox that while the form itself remains invisible, it is everywhere present. The paradox becomes even more strange when we realise that some of our finest writers of English prose  did not write novels at all, they wrote essays. The anthology is an attempt at making what has always been present also permanently visible. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra   • A collection of the finest essays written in English by Indians over the past two hundred years. • The Book of Indian Essays is a wide-ranging historical anthology of the Indian essay in English – the f