An overwhelmingly Arab-centric perspective dominates the West’s understanding of Islam and leads to a view of this religion as exclusively Middle Eastern and monolithic. Teena Purohit presses for a reorientation that would conceptualize Islam instead as a heterogeneous religion that has found a variety of expressions in local contexts throughout history. The story she tells of an Ismaili community in colonial India illustrates how much more complex Muslim identity is, and always has been, than the media would have us believe.The Aga Khan Case focuses on a nineteenth-century court case in Bombay that influenced how religious identity was defined in India and subsequently the British Empire. The case arose when a group of Indians known as the Khojas refused to pay tithes to the Aga Khan, a Persian nobleman and hereditary spiritual leader of the Ismailis. The Khojas abided by both Hindu and Muslim customs and did not identify with a single religion prior to the court’s ruling in 1866, when the judge declared them to be converts to Ismaili Islam beholden to the Aga Khan.In her analysis of the ginans, the religious texts of the Khojas that formed the basis of the judge’s decision, Purohit reveals that the religious practices they describe are not derivations of a Middle Eastern Islam but manifestations of a local vernacular one. Purohit suggests that only when we understand Islam as inseparable from the specific cultural milieus in which it flourishes do we fully grasp the meaning of this global religion.
Anglophone Poetry in Colonial India, 1780–1913: A Critical Anthology makes accessible for the first time the entire range of poems written in English on the subcontinent from their beginnings in 1780 to the watershed moment in 1913 when Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize in Literature.Mary Ellis Gibson establishes accurate texts for such well-known poets as Toru Dutt and the early nineteenth-century poet Kasiprasad Ghosh. The anthology brings together poets who were in fact colleagues, competitors, and influences on each other. The historical scope of the anthology, beginning with the famous Orientalist Sir William Jones and the anonymous “Anna Maria” and ending with Indian poets publishing in fin-de-siècle London, will enable teachers and students to understand what brought Kipling early fame and why at the same time Tagore’s Gitanjali became a global phenomenon. Anglophone Poetry in Colonial India, 1780–1913 puts all parties to the poetic conversation back together and makes their work accessible to American audiences.With accurate and reliable texts, detailed notes on vocabulary, historical and cultural references, and biographical introductions to more than thirty poets, this collection significantly reshapes the understanding of English language literary culture in India. It allows scholars to experience the diversity of poetic forms created in this period and to understand the complex religious, cultural, political, and gendered divides that shaped them.
What is colonialism and what is a colonial state? Ranajit Guha points out that the colonial state in South Asia was fundamentally different from the metropolitan bourgeois state which sired it. The metropolitan state was hegemonic in character, and its claim to dominance was based on a power relation in which persuasion outweighed coercion. Conversely, the colonial state was non-hegemonic, and in its structure of dominance coercion was paramount. Indeed, the originality of the South Asian colonial state lay precisely in this difference: a historical paradox, it was an autocracy set up and sustained in the East by the foremost democracy of the Western world. It was not possible for that non-hegemonic state to assimilate the civil society of the colonized to itself. Thus the colonial state, as Guha defines it in this closely argued work, was a paradox--a dominance without hegemony.Dominance without Hegemony had a nationalist aspect as well. This arose from a structural split between the elite and subaltern domains of politics, and the consequent failure of the Indian bourgeoisie to integrate vast areas of the life and consciousness of the people into an alternative hegemony. That predicament is discussed in terms of the nationalist project of anticipating power by mobilizing the masses and producing an alternative historiography. In both endeavors the elite claimed to speak for the people constituted as a nation and sought to challenge the pretensions of an alien regime to represent the colonized. A rivalry between an aspirant to power and its incumbent, this was in essence a contest for hegemony.
This classic work in subaltern studies explores the common elements present in rebel consciousness during the Indian colonial period. Ranajit Guha—intellectual founder of the groundbreaking and influential Subaltern Studies Group—describes from the peasants’ viewpoint the relations of dominance and subordination in rural India from 1783 to 1900.Challenging the idea that peasants were powerless agents who rebelled blindly against British imperialist oppression and local landlord exploitation, Guha emphasizes their awareness and will to effect political change. He suggests that the rebellions represented the birth of a theoretical consciousness and asserts that India’s long subaltern tradition lent power to the landmark insurgence led by Mahatma Gandhi. Yet as long as landlord authority remains dominant in a ruling culture, Guha claims, all mass struggles will tend to model themselves after the unfinished projects documented in this book.Students and scholars will welcome this paperback edition of Guha’s 1983 original, which was distributed on a limited scale in the United States. It will influence new generations studying colonialism, postcolonialism, subaltern studies, historiography, anthropology, and Indian, Asian, and Latin American history.
A 2012 CHOICE “Outstanding Academic Title“
A new historical approach to Indian English literature
Mary Ellis Gibson shows that poetry, not fiction, was the dominant literary genre of Indian writing in English until 1860 and that poetry written in colonial situations can tell us as much or even more about figuration, multilingual literacies, and histories of nationalism than novels can. Gibson re-creates the historical webs of affiliation and resistance that were experienced by writers in colonial India—writers of British, Indian, and mixed ethnicities.
Advancing new theoretical and historical paradigms for reading colonial literatures, Indian Angles makes accessible many writers heretofore neglected or virtually unknown. Gibson recovers texts by British women, by nonelite British men, and by persons who would, in the nineteenth century, have been called Eurasian. Her work traces the mutually constitutive history of English-language poets from Sir William Jones to Toru Dutt and Rabindranath Tagore. Drawing on contemporary postcolonial theory, her work also provides new ways of thinking about British internal colonialism as its results were exported to South Asia.
In lucid and accessible prose, Gibson presents a new theoretical approach to colonial and postcolonial literatures.
Drawing on history, political science, anthropology, and philosophy, Seth interprets the debates and controversies that came to surround western education. Central among these were concerns that Indian students were acquiring western education by rote memorization—and were therefore not acquiring “true knowledge”—and that western education had plunged Indian students into a moral crisis, leaving them torn between modern, western knowledge and traditional Indian beliefs. Seth argues that these concerns, voiced by the British as well as by nationalists, reflected the anxiety that western education was failing to produce the modern subjects it presupposed. This failure suggested that western knowledge was not the universal epistemology it was thought to be. Turning to the production of collective identities, Seth illuminates the nationalists’ position vis-à-vis western education—which they both sought and criticized—through analyses of discussions about the education of Muslims and women.
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