This volume looks at the concept of the ‘local’ in Indian history. Through a case study of Bengal, it studies how worldwide currents—be it colonial governance, pedagogic practices or intellectual rhythms—simultaneously inform and interact with particular local idioms to produce variegated histories of a region. It examines the processes through which the idea of the ‘local’ gets constituted in different spatial entities such as the frontier province of the Jangal Mahal, the Sundarbans, the dry terrain of Birbhum-Bankura-Purulia and the urban spaces of Calcutta and other small towns. The volume further discusses the various administrative as well as amateur representations of these settings to chart out the ways through which certain spaces get associated with a particular image or history. The chapters in the volume explore a variety of themes—textual representations of the region, epistemic practices and educational policies, as well as administrative manoeuvres and governmental practices which helped the state in mapping its people.
An important contribution in the study of Indian history, this interdisciplinary work will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of science and technology studies, history, sociology and social anthropology and South Asian studies.
Part I: Textual Representations, Public Discourses
1. Dynastic Times: A Chronology for Memories in Bishnupur
2. Tidal Histories: Envisioning the Sundarbans, 1860s–1920s
3. Representations of Manbhum and Purulia in Orientalist Texts and the Task of Salvaging the Past of the Region
Part II: Pedagogic Practices, Local Articulations
4. The Small Voices of History: Subaltern Technologists of Colonial Bengal
5. The Advent of Primary Education in Bengal
6. Education and Training for Coal Miners: ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Knowledge’ in the Collieries of Raniganj and Jharia, 1901–1930
Part III: Administrative Imperatives, Governmental Manoeuvres
7. Military Interventions and Surveys in Southwest Bengal, c. 1765: Midnapore “Frontier” and the Wider Jangal Mahal
8. Rethinking Detection in Bengal: Police Work in the Districts and the City in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
9. Influx and Efflux: A Case Study of the Nadia District, 1947–1971