Despite its importance to literary and cultural texts of resistance, theater has been largely overlooked as a field of analysis in colonial and postcolonial studies. Acts of Authority/Acts of Resistance seeks to address that absence, as it uniquely views drama and performance as central to the practice of nationalism and anti-colonial resistance.
Nandi Bhatia argues that Indian theater was a significant force in the struggle against oppressive colonial and postcolonial structures, as it sought to undo various schemes of political and cultural power through its engagement with subjects derived from mythology, history, and available colonial models such as Shakespeare. Bhatia's attention to local histories within a postcolonial framework places performance in a global and transcultural context. Drawing connections between art and politics, between performance and everyday experience, Bhatia shows how performance often intervened in political debates and even changed the course of politics.
One of the first Western studies of Indian theater to link the aesthetics and the politics of that theater, Acts of Authority/Acts of Resistance combines in-depth archival research with close readings of dramatic texts performed at critical moments in history. Each chapter amplifies its themes against the backdrop of specific social conditions as it examines particular dramatic productions, from The Indigo Mirror to adaptations of Shakespeare plays by Indian theater companies, illustrating the role of theater in bringing nationalist, anticolonial, and gendered struggles into the public sphere.
Nandi Bhatia is Associate Professor of English at the University of Western Ontario.
The 1984 explosion of the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India was undisputedly one of the world's worst industrial disasters. Some have argued that the resulting litigation provided an "innovative model" for dealing with the global distribution of technological risk; others consider the disaster a turning point in environmental legislation; still others argue that Bhopal is what globalization looks like on the ground.
Kim Fortun explores these claims by focusing on the dynamics and paradoxes of advocacy in competing power domains. She moves from hospitals in India to meetings with lawyers, corporate executives, and environmental justice activists in the United States to show how the disaster and its effects remain with us. Spiraling outward from the victims' stories, the innovative narrative sheds light on the way advocacy works within a complex global system, calling into question conventional notions of responsibility and ethical conduct. Revealing the hopes and frustrations of advocacy, this moving work also counters the tendency to think of Bhopal as an isolated incident that "can't happen here."
Faiz Ahmed Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress KNF68.A366 2017 | Dewey Decimal 349.581
Debunking conventional narratives, Faiz Ahmed presents a vibrant account of the first Muslim-majority country to gain independence, codify its own laws, and ratify a constitution after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Afghanistan, he shows, attracted thinkers eager to craft a modern state within the interpretive traditions of Islamic law and ethics.
In Africa in the Indian Imagination Antoinette Burton reframes our understanding of the postcolonial Afro-Asian solidarity that emerged from the 1955 Bandung conference. Afro-Asian solidarity is best understood, Burton contends, by using friction as a lens to expose the racial, class, gender, sexuality, caste, and political tensions throughout the postcolonial global South. Focusing on India's imagined relationship with Africa, Burton historicizes Africa's role in the emergence of a coherent postcolonial Indian identity. She shows how—despite Bandung's rhetoric of equality and brotherhood—Indian identity echoed colonial racial hierarchies in its subordination of Africans and blackness. Underscoring Indian anxiety over Africa and challenging the narratives and dearly held assumptions that presume a sentimentalized, nostalgic, and fraternal history of Afro-Asian solidarity, Burton demonstrates the continued need for anti-heroic, vexed, and fractious postcolonial critique.
In After Empire Michael Gorra explores how three novelists of empire—Paul Scott, V. S. Naipaul, and Salman Rushdie—have charted the perpetually drawn and perpetually blurred boundaries of identity left in the wake of British imperialism.
Arguing against a model of cultural identity based on race, Gorra begins with Scott's portrait, in The Raj Quartet, of the character Hari Kumar—a seeming oxymoron, an "English boy with a dark brown skin," whose very existence undercuts the belief in an absolute distinction between England and India. He then turns to the opposed figures of Naipaul and Rushdie, the two great novelists of the Indian diaspora. Whereas Naipaul's long and controversial career maps the "deep disorder" spread by both imperialism and its passing, Rushdie demonstrates that certain consequences of that disorder, such as migrancy and mimicry, have themselves become creative forces.
After Empire provides engaging and enlightening readings of postcolonial fiction, showing how imperialism helped shape British national identity—and how, after the end of empire, that identity must now be reconfigured.
The Aga Khan Case
Teena Purohit Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress KNS46.A33P87 2012 | Dewey Decimal 344.547096
An Arab-centric perspective dominates the West’s understanding of Islam. Purohit presses for a view of Islam as a heterogeneous religion that has found a variety of expressions in local contexts. The Ismaili community in colonial India illustrates how much more complex Muslim identity is, and always has been, than the media would have us believe.
Age of Entanglement
Kris Manjapra Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress DS428.M36 2014 | Dewey Decimal 303.48243054
Age of Entanglement explores the patterns of connection linking German and Indian intellectuals from the nineteenth century to the years after the Second World War. Kris Manjapra traces the intersecting ideas and careers of philologists, physicists, poets, economists, and others who shared ideas, formed networks, and studied one another's worlds. Moving beyond well-rehearsed critiques of colonialism, this study recasts modern intellectual history in terms of the knotted intellectual itineraries of seeming strangers.
Collaborations in the sciences, arts, and humanities produced extraordinary meetings of German and Indian minds. Meghnad Saha met Albert Einstein, Stella Kramrisch brought the Bauhaus to Calcutta, and Girindrasekhar Bose began a correspondence with Sigmund Freud. Rabindranath Tagore traveled to Germany to recruit scholars for a new university, and Himanshu Rai worked with Franz Osten to establish movie studios in Bombay. These interactions, Manjapra argues, evinced shared responses to the hegemony of the British empire. Germans and Indians hoped to find in one another the tools needed to disrupt an Anglocentric world order. As Manjapra demonstrates, transnational encounters are not inherently progressive. From Orientalism to Aryanism to scientism, German-Indian entanglements were neither necessarily liberal nor conventionally cosmopolitan, often characterized as much by manipulation as by genuine cooperation.
Agrarian Environments questions the dichotomies that have structured earlier analyses of environmental processes in India and offers a new way of looking at the relationship between agrarian transformation and environmental change. The contributors claim that attempts to explain environmental conflicts in terms of the local versus the global, indigenous versus outsiders, women versus men, or the community versus the market or state obscure vital dynamics of mobilization and organization that critically influence thought and policy. Editors Arun Agrawal and K. Sivaramakrishnan claim that rural social change in India cannot be understood without exploring how environmental changes articulate major aspects of agrarian transformations—technological, cultural, and political—in the last two centuries. In order to examine these issues, they have reached beyond the confines of single disciplinary allegiances or methodological loyalties to bring together anthropologists, historians, political scientists, geographers, and environmental scientists who are significantly informed by interdisciplinary research. Drawing on extensive field and archival research, the contributors demonstrate the powerful political implications of blurring the boundaries between dichotomous cultural representations, combine conceptual analyses with specific case studies, and look at why competing powers chose to emphasize particular representations of land use or social relations. By providing a more textured analysis of how categories emerge and change, this work offers the possibility of creating crucial alliances across populations that have historically been assumed to lack mutual goals. Agrarian Environments will be valuable to those in political science, Asian studies, and environmental studies.
Contributors. Arun Agrawal, Mark Baker, Molly Chattopadhyaya, Vinay Gidwani, Sumit Guha, Shubhra Gururani, Cecile Jackson, David Ludden, Haripriya Rangan, Paul Robbins, Vasant Saberwal, James C. Scott, K. Sivaramakrishnan, Ajay Skaria, Jennifer Springer, Darren Zook
In Alimentary Tracts Parama Roy argues that who eats and with whom, who starves, and what is rejected as food are questions fundamental to empire, decolonization, and globalization. In crucial ways, she suggests, colonialism reconfigured the sensorium of colonizer and colonized, generating novel experiences of desire, taste, and appetite as well as new technologies of the embodied self. For colonizers, Indian nationalists, diasporic persons, and others in the colonial and postcolonial world orders, the alimentary tract functioned as an important corporeal, psychoaffective, and ethicopolitical contact zone, in which questions of identification, desire, difference, and responsibility were staged.
Interpreting texts that have addressed cooking, dining, taste, hungers, excesses, and aversions in South Asia and its diaspora since the mid-nineteenth century, Roy relates historical events and literary figures to tropes of disgust, abstention, dearth, and appetite. She analyzes the fears of pollution and deprivation conveyed in British accounts of the so-called Mutiny of 1857, complicates understandings of Mohandas K. Gandhi’s vegetarianism, examines the “famine fictions” of the novelist-actor Mahasweta Devi, and reflects on the diasporic cookbooks and screen performances of Madhur Jaffrey. This account of richly visceral global modernity furnishes readers with a new idiom for understanding historical action and cultural transformation.
Jenny Huberman provides an ethnographic study of encounters between western tourists and the children who work as unlicensed peddlers and guides along the riverfront city of Banaras, India. She examines how and why these children elicit such powerful reactions from western tourists and locals in their community as well as how the children themselves experience their work and render it meaningful.
Ambivalent Encounters brings together scholarship on the anthropology of childhood, tourism, consumption, and exchange to ask why children emerge as objects of the international tourist gaze; what role they play in representing socio-economic change; how children are valued and devalued; why they elicit anxieties, fantasies, and debates; and what these tourist encounters teach us more generally about the nature of human interaction. It examines the role of gender in mediating experiences of social change—girls are praised by locals for participating constructively in the informal tourist economy while boys are accused of deviant behavior. Huberman is interested equally in the children’s and adults’ perspectives; her own experiences as a western visitor and researcher provide an intriguing entry into her interpretations.
"This work is of importance for psychoanalysts and scholars of the psychology of religion. Kakar makes a scholarly and significant contribution to the objectification of what psychoanalysis and Hindu mystical tradition have in common."—Ana Maria Rizzuto, Tufts University
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 does it mean to live and die in relation to other animals? Animal Intimacies posits this central question alongside the intimate—and intense—moments of care, kinship, violence, politics, indifference, and desire that occur between human and non-human animals.
Built on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the mountain villages of India’s Central Himalayas, Radhika Govindrajan’s book explores the number of ways that human and animal interact to cultivate relationships as interconnected, related beings. Whether it is through the study of the affect and ethics of ritual animal sacrifice, analysis of the right-wing political project of cow-protection, or examination of villagers’ talk about bears who abduct women and have sex with them, Govindrajan illustrates that multispecies relatedness relies on both difference and ineffable affinity between animals. Animal Intimacies breaks substantial new ground in animal studies, and Govindrajan’s detailed portrait of the social, political and religious life of the region will be of interest to cultural anthropologists and scholars of South Asia as well.
Julie E. Hughes Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress SK235.H84 2013 | Dewey Decimal 639.10954
Animal Kingdoms reveals the far-reaching cultural, political, and environmental importance of hunting in colonial India. Julie E. Hughes explores how Indian princes relied on their prowess as hunters of prized game to advance personal status, solidify power, and establish links with the historic battlefields and legendary deeds of their ancestors.
Until well into the twentieth century, pack animals were the primary mode of transport for supplying armies in the field. The British Indian Army was no exception. In the late nineteenth century, for example, it forcibly pressed into service thousands of camels of the Indus River basin to move supplies into and out of contested areas—a system that wreaked havoc on the delicately balanced multispecies environment of humans, animals, plants, and microbes living in this region of Northwest India.
In Animal Labor and Colonial Warfare, James Hevia examines the use of camels, mules, and donkeys in colonial campaigns of conquest and pacification, starting with the Second Afghan War—during which an astonishing 50,000 to 60,000 camels perished—and ending in the early twentieth century. Hevia explains how during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a new set of human-animal relations were created as European powers and the United States expanded their colonial possessions and attempted to put both local economies and ecologies in the service of resource extraction. The results were devastating to animals and human communities alike, disrupting centuries-old ecological and economic relationships. And those effects were lasting: Hevia shows how a number of the key issues faced by the postcolonial nation-state of Pakistan—such as shortages of clean water for agriculture, humans, and animals, and limited resources for dealing with infectious diseases—can be directly traced to decisions made in the colonial past. An innovative study of an underexplored historical moment, Animal Labor and Colonial Warfare opens up the animal studies to non-Western contexts and provides an empirically rich contribution to the emerging field of multispecies historical ecology.
Animals play a special role in Indian culture. In opposition to deities, they help to frame the human community. Indian philosophy assumes the basic unity of animals and humans and in everyday life animals symbolize various ideas and sentiments. In the realm of Indian art, animals appear everywhere.
In this splendid and unique collection of photographs, Stella Snead captures the extraordinary vitality, intelligence, and variety of animals in Indian sculpture found at sites from prehistory through the eighteenth century. Here are cats, peacocks, mongooses, anteaters, cows, hyenas, and tigers, as well as such fantastic creatures as double-bodied lions and elephants with fish tails. Collected from all areas of India, these photographs include images from famous Indian monuments, and museum collections, as well as images from remote sites, some of which have never before been published.
Wendy Doniger's essay explores and explains the four worlds or dimensions that animals occupy in Indian thought: nature, the human world, the divine world, and the world of fantasy. George Michell places Indian sculptures of animals in their architectural and art historical context. His chronological survey identifies the location and the subject of the animals photographed and describes the artistic activity of the regions and period from which the photographs are drawn.
This beautifully illustrated book will appeal to a wide audience: to those interested in Asian studies, art, architecture, and animals, and to those drawn to Snead's powerful photographs, which capture both the idiosyncratic genius of tiny details and the grand sweep of cosmic symbols.
Benjamin Cohen tells the dramatic story of Mehdi Hasan and Ellen Donnelly, whose marriage convulsed high society in nineteenth-century India and whose notorious trial reverberated throughout the British Empire, setting the benchmark for Victorian scandals. In the struggle of one couple, he exposes the fault lines that would soon tear a world apart.
Appropriately Indian is an ethnographic analysis of the class of information technology professionals at the symbolic helm of globalizing India. Comprising a small but prestigious segment of India’s labor force, these transnational knowledge workers dominate the country’s economic and cultural scene, as do their notions of what it means to be Indian. Drawing on the stories of Indian professionals in Mumbai, Bangalore, Silicon Valley, and South Africa, Smitha Radhakrishnan explains how these high-tech workers create a “global Indianness” by transforming the diversity of Indian cultural practices into a generic, mobile set of “Indian” norms. Female information technology professionals are particularly influential. By reconfiguring notions of respectable femininity and the “good” Indian family, they are reshaping ideas about what it means to be Indian.
Radhakrishnan explains how this transnational class creates an Indian culture that is self-consciously distinct from Western culture, yet compatible with Western cosmopolitan lifestyles. She describes the material and symbolic privileges that accrue to India’s high-tech workers, who often claim ordinary middle-class backgrounds, but are overwhelmingly urban and upper caste. They are also distinctly apolitical and individualistic. Members of this elite class practice a decontextualized version of Hinduism, and they absorb the ideas and values that circulate through both Indian and non-Indian multinational corporations. Ultimately, though, global Indianness is rooted and configured in the gendered sphere of home and family.
Mumbai's textile industry is commonly but incorrectly understood to be an extinct relic of the past. In The Archive of Loss Maura Finkelstein examines what it means for textile mill workers—who are assumed not to exist—to live and work during a period of deindustrialization. Finkelstein shows how mills are ethnographic archives of the city where documents, artifacts, and stories exist in the buildings and in the bodies of workers. Workers' pain, illnesses, injuries, and exhaustion narrate industrial decline; the ways in which they live in tenements exist outside and resist the values expounded by modernity; and the rumors and untruths they share about textile worker strikes and a mill fire help them make sense of the industry's survival. In outlining this archive's contents, Finkelstein shows how mills, which she conceptualizes as lively ruins, become a lens through which to challenge, reimagine, and alter ways of thinking about the past, present, and future in Mumbai and beyond.
Army and Nation
Steven I. Wilkinson Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress UA840.W55 2014 | Dewey Decimal 322.50954
Steven I. Wilkinson explores how India has succeeded in keeping the military out of politics, when so many other countries have failed. He uncovers the command and control strategies, the careful ethnic balancing, and the political, foreign policy, and strategic decisions that have made the army safe for Indian democracy.
Following India’s independence in 1947, Indian artists creating modern works of art sought to maintain a local idiom, an “Indianness” representative of their newly independent nation, while connecting to modernism, an aesthetic then understood as both universal and presumptively Western. These artists depicted India’s precolonial past while embracing aspects of modernism’s pursuit of the new, and they challenged the West’s dismissal of non-Western places and cultures as sources of primitivist imagery but not of modernist artworks. In Art for a Modern India, Rebecca M. Brown explores the emergence of a self-conscious Indian modernism—in painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, film, and photography—in the years between independence and 1980, by which time the Indian art scene had changed significantly and postcolonial discourse had begun to complicate mid-century ideas of nationalism.
Through close analyses of specific objects of art and design, Brown describes how Indian artists engaged with questions of authenticity, iconicity, narrative, urbanization, and science and technology. She explains how the filmmaker Satyajit Ray presented the rural Indian village as a socially complex space rather than as the idealized site of “authentic India” in his acclaimed Apu Trilogy, how the painter Bhupen Khakhar reworked Indian folk idioms and borrowed iconic images from calendar prints in his paintings of urban dwellers, and how Indian architects developed a revivalist style of bold architectural gestures anchored in India’s past as they planned the Ashok Hotel and the Vigyan Bhavan Conference Center, both in New Delhi. Discussing these and other works of art and design, Brown chronicles the mid-twentieth-century trajectory of India’s modern visual culture.
"At last, she arrives at the fatal end of the plank . . . and, with her hands crossed over her chest, falls straight downward, suspended for a moment in the air before being devoured by the burning pit that awaits her. . . ." This grisly 1829 account by Pierre Dubois demonstrates the usual European response to the Hindu custom of satis sacrificing themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands—horror and revulsion. Yet to those of the Hindu faith, not least the satis themselves, this act signals the sati's sacredness and spiritual power.
Ashes of Immortality attempts to see the satis through Hindu eyes, providing an extensive experiential and psychoanalytic account of ritual self-sacrifice and self-mutilation in South Asia. Based on fifteen years of fieldwork in northern India, where the state-banned practice of sati reemerged in the 1970s, as well as extensive textual analysis, Weinberger-Thomas constructs a radically new interpretation of satis. She shows that their self-immolation transcends gender, caste and class, region and history, representing for the Hindus a path to immortality.
Ashoka in Ancient India
Nayanjot Lahiri Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress DS451.5.L35 2015 | Dewey Decimal 934.045092
In the third century BCE Ashoka ruled in South Asia and Afghanistan, and came to be seen as the ideal Buddhist king. Disentangling the threads of Ashoka’s life from the knot of legend that surrounds it, Nayanjot Lahiri presents a vivid biography of an emperor whose legacy extends far beyond the bounds of his lifetime and dominion.
Indian scientific achievements in the early twentieth century are well known, with a number of heralded individuals making globally recognized strides in the field of astrophysics. Covering the period from the foundation of the Asiatick Society in 1784 to the establishment of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in 1876, Sen explores the relationship between Indian astronomers and the colonial British. He shows that from the mid-nineteenth century, Indians were not passive receivers of European knowledge, but active participants in modern scientific observational astronomy.
There are two Indias: the caste and class elite who hold all power and make up 10 to 15 percent of the population, and everyone else. Averting the Apocalypse is about everyone else. Arthur Bonner, a former New York Times reporter with long experience as a foreign correspondent in Asia, conducted interviews over many months while traveling almost 20,000 miles within India seeking out the underclass and social activists who together are beginning to mobilize for social change at the bottom of Indian society. Working in areas torn by violence, Bonner offers a terrifyingly accurate portrait of a society bloodied by decades of unequal social structure and the absence of a civil society and political mechanism capable of responding to the exploitation of the poor and weak. Bonner finds that India’s inability or refusal to address its debilitating social structure may be the precursor to an apocalyptic social upheaval unless heed is paid to the social movements that his first-hand investigation reveals.