This book studies the various representations of Asia in Bengali literary periodicals between the 1860s and 1940s. It looks at how these periodicals tried to analyse the political situation in Asia in the context of world politics and how Indian nationalistic ideas and associations impacted their vision.
The volume highlights the influences of cosmopolitanism, universalism and nationalism which contributed towards a common vision of a united and powerful Asia and how these ideas were put into practice. It analyses travel accounts by men and women and examines how women became the focus of the didactic efforts of all writers for a horizontal dissemination of Asian consciousness. The author also provides a discussion on Asian art and culture, past and present connections between Asian countries and the resurgence of 19th-century Buddhism in the consciousness of the Bengalis.
Rich in archival material, Knowing Asia, Being Asian will be useful for scholars and researchers of history, Asian studies, modern India, cultural studies, media studies, journalism, publishing, post-colonial studies, travel writings, women and gender studies, political studies and social anthropology.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Othering the Self through Sahitya Patrikas 2. Travelling in Asian lands: male gaze 3. A woman’s perspective: writing for women, about women and by women 4. Beyond the classroom: Teaching about Asia in children’s magazines 5. Cultural Intimacies: The Quest for an Asian Art and Culture 6. Buddhist ideas and pilgrimage as a means of connectivity 7. Nationalist discourse and locating the nation in the world 8. United Asia: Hope and Illusion 9. Institutionalising dreams: Tagore, Bose, Nehru
Sarvani Gooptu is Professor of Asian Literary and Cultural Studies at Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata, India. Previously she worked in the History Department at Calcutta Girls’ College, Calcutta University, as Associate Professor and Head (1997–2016). Her main areas of research are nationalism and culture in the colonial and post-colonial periods. Among her publications are The Actress in the Public Theatres of Calcutta (2015), The Music of Nationhood: Dwijendralal Roy of Bengal (2018) and two co-edited volumes On Modern Indian Sensibilities: Culture, Politics, History with Ishita Banerjee-Dube (2018) and The Regional Great Game in the Indian Ocean and India’s Evolving Maritime Strategy (2020) with Vivek Mishra. She has published extensively in national and international journals on diverse topics like minority communities of Calcutta; biographical works on leading Indian men and women; Asia in Bengali journals and literature; India’s relations with China, Japan and Burma; women’s travel narratives; Buddhist pilgrimages in the past and present in Asia; and Gandhi and Bengal. She has been a Council Member for 21 years at Netaji Research Bureau and is also Council member and Secretary of the Indian Association of Asian and Pacific Studies.