This book explores the social and cultural histories of India, focusing on cultural encounters and representations of subaltern communities from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century. Examining cultural encounters between Europeans and Indians during the precolonial and colonial periods, the book analyzes European, especially English, efforts to exoticize or investigate the social practices of the Other. It also presents the culturally conditioned Indian subject's perspective on Europe and the imperial society. The book engages with narratives of suppressed movements of tribals and dalits, of erosion of the culture and history of ancient communities, and recovers the local narratives of marginalized groups in Andaman and Malabar, which get superseded by the larger narrative of nation-building. Often relying on oral history instead of printed material and sociological fieldwork, the alternate histories are presented through unconventional, literary or semi-literary genres like travel narratives, fiction, films, and songs, thus presenting an alternative interpretation to the central narrative of the progress of mainstream India.
Representing cultural history and the view from below, the book shifts its focus from the conventional historiography associated with political history and will be of interest to academics working in the field of cultural studies, the historiography of India, South Asian Studies and an interdisciplinary audience in history, sociology, literature, media, and English studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction Part 1: Investigating Cultural Practices, Fashioning Identities, and Travel Literature 1 John Locke’s India: Religion, Revelation, and Enthusiasm, Daniel Carey 2 Encountering the ‘Sati’: Early Modern English Travel Narratives and the Politics of Exoticization, Rita Banerjee 3 Indian Travel Writing in the Age of Empire: Mobility and Cosmopolitan Nationalism, Pramod K. Nayar Part 2: Alternate Histories, Divergent Concepts, and Subaltern Spaces of Resistance 4 Patriots in Kala Pani? Writing Subaltern Resistance into the Nationalist Memory, Philipp Zehmisch 5 Reading Bhikshu Bodhanand’s Mool Bharatvasi aur Arya: Reflections on an Alternative History of the ‘Beginnings’ of Indian Civilization, Tapan K. Basu 6 Enacting Resistance in History and Fiction: Counter-narratives of Tribal Historiography in Mahasweta Devi’s Writings, Debarati Das and Rita Banerjee 7 "We must create a history of India in living terms": Patrick Geddes and Aspects of Sister Nivedita's Writings on Indian History, Arpita Mitra Part 3: Writing History and Engaging with Peripheral Genres 8 Cassetted Emotions: Intimate Songs and Marital Conflicts in the Age of Pravasi (1970-1990), P. K. Yasser Arafath 9 Framing History, Precarity, and Trauma: A Study of Nandita Das’s Firaaq, Nishat Haider
Rita Banerjee is Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, India.