South Asia publications 2000-present
Kamran Asdar Ali
Co-Editor. Comparing Cities: Middle East and South Asia (Oxford University Press, 2009) This book highlights the changing social dynamics in Middle Eastern and South Asian cities. The comparative framework builds on a shared history of the colonial encounter, modernity, nationalism and urbanity and is further deepened by the larger framework of Muslim culture that influences social life in both spaces. The various chapters rethink the gendered dimension of public spaces and investigate the relationship between the popular and the political in these regions. They also take into account how larger structural changes in South Asia/ Middle East have impacted the practices and experiences of people.
Co-Editor. Gendering Urban Space in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa (Palgrave Press, 2008) The essays in this book critically examine the ways in which gendered subjects negotiate their life-worlds in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African urban landscapes. They raise issues surrounding the city as a representative site of personal autonomy and political possibilities for women and/or men.
Co-Author, Buddhismus: Handbuch und kritische Einführung [Buddhism: Handbook and Critical Introduction] (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011) This book is a comprehensive introduction into Buddhism, its history and teachings and its many practices. It starts with a survey of Buddhist history in Asia and the West and continues discussing a variety of topics: Buddhist languages and texts, worldviews, religious practice, social forms, state and politics, economy, art and architecture, modernization and globalization, and the interaction with other religions.
Der Askesediskurs in der Religionsgeschichte: Eine vergleichende Untersuchung brahmanischer und frühchristlicher Texte. [The Asceticism Discourse in the History of Religions: A Comparative Study of Brahmanical and Early Christian Texts.] (Studies in Oriental Religions, 57. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2009)
This book analyzes and compares two collections of texts, the early Christian Sayings of the Desert Fathers of Egypt and classical Hindu texts on renunciation, the Saṃnyāsa Upaniṣads. The study includes an analysis of discourses about a variety of ascetic practices in both sources and introduces a new method for the comparative study of religion, the comparison of discourses. As a conclusion it suggests a theoretical model of the religious discourse about asceticism that may also be applied to other religious contexts.
Editor. Asceticism and Its Critics: Historical Accounts and Comparative Perspectives. American Academy of Religion, Cultural Criticism Series. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006) Scholars of religion have always been fascinated by asceticism. Some have even regarded this radical way of life as the ultimate form of a truereligious quest. This view is rooted in hagiographic descriptions of prominent ascetics and in other literary accounts that praise the ascetic life-style. Scholars have often overlooked, however, that in the history of religions ascetic beliefs and practices have also been strongly criticized, byfollowers of the same religious tradition as well as by outsiders. The respective sources provide sufficient evidence of such critical strands but surprisingly as yet no attempt has been made to analyze this criticism of asceticism systematically. This book is a first attempt of filling this gap.
Der Orden in der Lehre: Zur religiösen Deutung des Saṅgha im frühen Buddhismus. [The Order in the Doctrine: On the Religious Interpretation of the Saṅgha in Early Buddhism.] Studies in Oriental Religions, 47. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000)
This study examines how the Buddhist monastic community (saṅgha) is imagined in the doctrinal texts of early Buddhism. It exposes two major tendencies: an institutionalistic tendency that views the saṅgha as a clearly demarcated community and as the sole gateway to liberation; and an individualistic tendency that emphasizes the individual’s spiritual path rather than saṅgha membership. The study shows that already the oldest Buddhist texts contain various views about the nature of the saṅgha and, therefore, that a plurality of voices existed already in the early Buddhist community.
Co-Editor. A Wilderness of Possibilities: Urdu Studies in Transnational Perspective, (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. 2005) A Wilderness of Possibilities brings together eleven essays exemplifying the changing place of Urdu in today's world. Written by specialists in the field, they discuss diverse aspects of Urdu and Persian literature and poetry between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. While the focus is mainly on Urdu poetry, offering a comprehensive introduction to the sociology, culture, and politics of its enchanting and complex world, the volume also includes essays on travelogues, print journalism, and a play.
Somnath Gupt. The Parsi Theatre: Its Origins and Development, translated and edited by Kathryn Hansen. (Calcutta: Seagull Books. 2005) From its inception in 1853, Parsi theatre rapidly developed into a mobile, company-based entertainment that reached across colonial and princely India and extended overseas into Southeast Asia. Although largely displaced by motion pictures after the advent of sound in the 1930s, Parsi theatre remains a vital component of the subcontinent’s cultural heritage, significant for its long-term impact on diverse regional theatrical styles and the popular cinema.
There is a great need for reliable information in English that would shed light on the history and practice of this important theatrical form. Through translation, editing and annotation, Kathryn Hansen has sought to make Gupt’s Parsi Thiyetar-one of the most frequently consulted studied of the seminal Parsi theatre form-available to the general reader and the theatre specialist, thus making way for further research.
Co-Editor. Inside the Everyday Lives of Development Workers: the Challenges and Futures of Aidland (Kumarian Press, 2011) Much and warranted attention is paid to the lives of aid recipients – their household lives, saving habits, gender relations, etc. It’s held that a key to measuring the effectiveness of aid is contained in such details. Rarely, however, is the lens turned on the lives of aid workers themselves. Yet the seemingly impersonal network of agencies and donors that formulate and implement policy are composed of real people with complex motivations and experiences that might also provide important lessons about development’s failures and successes.
Hindman and co-Editor Anne-Meike Fechter illuminate the social and cultural world of the aid agency, a world that is neglected in most discussions of aid policy. They examine how aid workers’ moral beliefs interlink and conflict with their initial motivations, how they relate to aid beneficiaries, their local NGO counterparts, and other aid workers, their views on race and sexuality, the effect of transient lifestyles and insider language, and the security and family issues that come with choosing such a career. Ultimately, they arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of development processes that acknowledges a rich web of relationships at all levels of the system.
Syed Akbar Hyder
Reliving Karbala: Martyrdom in South Asian Memory (Oxford University Press, 2008)In 680 C.E., a small band of the Prophet Muhammads family and their followers, led by his grandson, Husain, rose up in a rebellion against the ruling caliph, Yazid. The family and its supporters, hopelessly outnumbered, were massacred at Karbala, in modern-day Iraq. The story of Karbala is the cornerstone of institutionalized devotion and mourning for millions of Shii Muslims. Apart from its appeal to the Shii community, invocations of Karbala have also come to govern mystical and reformist discourses in the larger Muslim world. Indeed, Karbala even serves as the archetypal resistance and devotional symbol for many non-Muslims. Until now, though, little scholarly attention has been given to the widespread and varied employment of the Karbala event.
In Reliving Karbala, Syed Akbar Hyder examines the myriad ways that the Karbala symbol has provided inspiration in South Asia, home to the worlds largest Muslim population. Rather than a unified reading of Islam, Hyder reveals multiple, sometimes conflicting, understandings of the meaning of Islamic religious symbols like Karbala. He ventures beyond traditional, scriptural interpretations to discuss the ways in which millions of very human adherents express and practice their beliefs. By using a panoramic array of sources, including musical performances, interviews, nationalist drama, and other literary forms, Hyder traces the evolution of this story from its earliest historical origins to the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Gandhi Meets Primetime: Globalization and Nationalism in Indian Television (University of Illinois Press, 2006) Shanti Kumar's Ghandi Meets Primetime, examines how cultural imaginations of national identity have been transformed by the rapid growth of satellite and cable television in postcolonial India. To evaluate the growing influence of foreign and domestic satellite and cable channels since 1991, the book considers a wide range of materials including contemporary television programming, historical archives, legal documents, policy statements, academic writings and journalistic accounts. Kumar argues that India's hybrid national identity is manifested in the discourses found in this variety of empirical sources. He deconstructs representations of Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation on the state-sponsored network Doordarshan and those found on Rupert Murdoch's STAR TV network. The book closely analyzes print advertisements to trace the changing status of the television set as a cultural commodity in postcolonial India, and examines publicity brochures, promotional materials and programming schedules of Indian-language networks to outline the role of vernacular media in the discourse of electronic capitalism. The empirical evidence is illuminated by theoretical analyses that combine diverse approaches such as cultural studies, poststructuralism and postcolonial criticism.
Co-Editor. Planet TV: A Global Television Reader (New York University Press, 2003) Planet TV provides an overview of the rapidly changing landscape of global television, combining previously published essays by pioneers of the study of television with new work by cutting-edge television scholars who refine and extend intellectual debates in the field. Organized thematically, the volume explores such issues as cultural imperialism, nationalism, postcolonialism, transnationalism, ethnicity and cultural hybridity. These themes are illuminated by concrete examples and case studies derived from empirical work on global television industries, programs, and audiences in diverse social, historical, and cultural contexts.Developing a new critical framework for exploring the political, economic, sociological and technological dimensions of television cultures, and countering the assumption that global television is merely a result of the current dominance of the West in world affairs, Planet TV demonstrates that the global dimensions of television were imagined into existence very early on in its contentious history.
Contributor. Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art (Yale University Press, 2010) According to sacred texts, the historical Buddha encouraged his disciples to make pilgrimages to sites associated with his life. As sacred images of the Buddha proliferated over time, it is said that his relics were divided among 84,000 South Asian sites of Buddhist worship, or stupas. This abundance of sacred sites in turn rendered pilgrimage and worship increasingly prominent influences on Asian culture and daily life. Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art employs sacred objects, textiles, sculpture, manuscripts, and paintings to discuss the relationship between Buddhist pilgrimage and Asia’s artistic production. Accompanying an exhibition of approximately 90 extraordinary objects, many of which have never before been displayed publicly, this book addresses the process of the sacred journey in its entirety, including discussion of pilgrimage motivation, ritual preparation, and worship at the sacred destination. Exceptional and visually stunning examples of painted mandalas, reliquaries, prayer wheels, and traveling shrines demonstrate that pilgrims and pilgrimage inspired centuries of artistic production and shaped the development of visual culture in Asia.
Sacred Traces: British Explorations of Buddhism in South Asia (Ashgate Publishing, 2003) Only in the 19th century did the western world realise the extent of the role of Buddhism in India's past. The excavation of Buddhist material remains was often guided by the accounts of Buddhist pilgrims from China, written long before, who went to India in search of sacred traces of the Buddha. Western explorers, however, had other interests besides the religion itself. They were motivated by concerns tied to the growing British control of the subcontinent. Building on earlier interventions, Janice Leoshko examines this history of 19th-century exploration to track the origins of the ways in which this Buddhist art has been studied.
Gender, Language, and Learning: Essays in Indo-Muslim Cultural History (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2009) With detailed historical evidence and systematic analysis, these articles illustrate the interconnections between gender, language, and culture to reveal challenges and issues that confronted South Asian Muslims during their encounter with the British Empire. Through these interconnections, they show the broader transforming arc of history in the fields of journalism, education, law, family and politics.
Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009) In discussing yoga's fundamental commitments, Phillips explores traditional teachings of hatha yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and tantra, and shows how such core concepts as self-monitoring consciousness, karma, nonharmfulness (ahimsa), reincarnation, and the powers of consciousness relate to modern practice. He outlines values implicit in bhakti yoga and the tantric yoga of beauty and art and explains the occult psychologies of koshas, skandhas, and chakras. His book incorporates original translations from the early Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutra (the entire text), the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and seminal tantric writings of the tenth-century Kashmiri Shaivite, Abhinava Gupta. A glossary defining more than three hundred technical terms and an extensive bibliography offer further help to nonscholars. A remarkable exploration of yoga's conceptual legacy, Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth crystallizes ideas about self and reality that unite the many incarnations of yoga.
Epistemology of Perception: Gangesa's Tattvacintamani, Vol. I, pratyaksa-khanda, introduction, translation, and commentary (with N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya). (New York: American Institute of Buddhist Studies, distributed by Columbia University Press, 2004. Revised Indian edition, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 2009) The present work is a translation of The Perception Chapter of Jewel of Reflection on the Truth, a foundational text by the great fourteenth-century Indian logician Gangesa Upadhyaya. The authors' introduction and running commentary to the translation provide essential theoretical and historical background, contextualization, analysis, and comparison of Nyaya and Western traditions.
Gangesa on the Upadhi, the "Inferential Undercutting Condition," introduction, translation, and explanation (with N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya, New Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 2002) This book presents a translation and philosophic commentary on a crucial and difficult text of Navya Nyaya and classical Indian logic. The inferential undercutter's significance is explained within the context of Nyaya's theory of knowledge, which had wide influence in the late classical culture, from philosophy to jurisprudence and aesthetics. Gangesa, the commonly recognized founder of "New Logic," is shown here to be an epistemologist and logician of the very first order. The book has been written for philosophers who are unfamiliar with Nyaya and Sanskrit philosophic terminology as well as for Indian philosophy specialists. An introduction places Gangesa's work within historical and ideative context, and a glossary explains his technical terms.
Viṣṇu's Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Vaiṣṇava Dharmaśāstra (Harvard Oriental Series, 73. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 2009) The Law Code of Visnu (Vaisnava-dharmasastra) is one of the latest of the ancient Indian legal texts composed around the seventh century ce in Kashmir. Both because the Vaishnava-Dharmasastra is the only Dharmasastra that can be geographically located and because it introduces some interesting and new elements into the discussion of Dharmasastric topics, this is a document of interest both to scholars of Indian legal literature and to cultural historians of India, especially of Kashmir. The new elements include the first Dharmasastric evidence for a wife burning herself at her husband’s cremation and the intrusion of devotional religion (bhakti) into Dharmasastras. This volume contains a critical edition of the Sanskrit text based on fifteen manuscripts, an annotated English translation, and an introduction evaluating its textual history, its connections to previous Dharmasastras, its date and provenance, its structure and content, and the use made of it by later medieval writers.
(Edited volume) Aśoka In History and Historical Memory (Delhi: Motilal Barnasidass. 2009) he current volume which contains the presentations at a symposium sponsored by the south Asia Institute and the department of Asian Studies of the University of Texas at Austin (February 4, 2006) is intended to advance the study of Asoka both as history and historical memory. The authors of these papers take as historically significant not only the "historically truth" of Asoka but also the ways in which Asoka presents himself and his political nationalistic and religious purposes by succeeding generation both in India and in other parts of Asia especially within the expanding Buddhist communities and nations.
Life of the Buddha: Buddhacarita by Aśvaghoṣa (The Clay Sanskrit Library. New York: New York University Press. 2008) The Buddhist monk Ashva·ghosha composed Life of the Buddha in the first or second century CE probably in Ayódhya. This is the earliest surviving text of the Sanskrit literary genre called kavya and probably provided models for Kali·dasa's more famous works. The most poignant scenes on the path to his Awakening are when the young prince Siddhártha, the future Buddha, is confronted by the reality of sickness, old age, and death, while seduced by the charms of the women employed to keep him at home. A poet of the highest order, Ashva·ghosha's aim is not entertainment but instruction, presenting the Buddha's teaching as the culmination of the Brahmanical tradition. His wonderful descriptions of the bodies of courtesans are ultimately meant to show the transience of beauty.
Ascetics and Brahmins: Studies in Ideologies and Institutions (Florence: University of Florence Press. 2007)
Language, Texts, and Society: Explorations in Ancient Indian Culture and Religion (Florence: University of Florence Press. 2006)
(Edited volume) Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (New York: Oxford University Press. 2006) This volume is the result of an international conference organized by the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas. Patrick Olivelle has collected and edited the best papers to emerge from the conference. Part I of the book looks at what can be construed from archeological evidence. Part II concerns itself with the textual evidence for the period. Taken together, these essays offer an unprecedented look at Indian culture and society in this distant epoch.
Five Discourses on Worldly Wisdom (Text and Translation of the Pañcatantra). (Clay Sanskrit Library. New York: New York University Press. 2006) The Pancatantra is the most famous collection of fables in India and was one of the earliest Indian books to be translated into Western languages. No other work of Indian literature has had a greater influence on world literature, and no other collection of stories has become as popular in India itself. Patrick Olivelle presents the Pancatantra in all its complexity and rich ambivalence, examining central elements of political and moral philosophy alongside the many controversial issues surrounding its history. This new translation vividly reveals the story-telling powers of the original author, while detailed notes illuminate aspects of ancient Indian society and religion to the non-specialist reader.
Dharmasūtra Parallels (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 2005) The Dharmasutra Parallels present in a synoptic layout of the passages in the four Dharmasutras of Apastamba. Gautama, Baudhayana, and Vasistha the deal with identical topics. The Dharmasutras represent the oldest extant codification of Law in ancient India. A close study of these early legal treatises is essential if we are to understand not only the legal but also the cultural and religious history of the three or four centuries prior to the common era, a period that saw the beginnings of many of the features that we commonly associate with Indian civilization.
Manu's Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Mānava-Dharmaśāstra (New York: Oxford University Press. 2005) Manu's Code of Law is one of the most important texts in the Sanskrit canon, indeed one of the most important surviving texts from any classical civilization. It paints an astoundingly detailed picture of ancient Indian life-covering everything from the constitution of the king's cabinet to the price of a ferry trip for a pregnant woman-and its doctrines have been central to Indian thought and practice for 2000 years.
(Edited volume) Dharma: Studies in Its Semantic, Cultural, and Religious History (Special double issue of the Journal of Indian Philosophy. Vol. 32, pp. 2004) This is the first scholarly book devoted to the study of the term dharma with in the broad scope of Indian cultural and religious history. Most generalizations about Indian culture and religion upon close scrutiny turn out to be inaccurate. An exception undoubtedly is the term dharma. This term and the notions underlying it clearly constitute the most central feature of Indian civilization down the centuries, irrespective of linguistic, sectarian, or regional differences. The nineteen papers included in this collection deal with many significant historical manifestations of the term dharma. These studies by some of the leading scholars in the respective fields will both present a more nuanced picture of the semantic history of dharma by putting contours onto the flat landscape we have inherited and spur further studies of this concept so central for understanding the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent.
The Law Code of Manu (based on the critical edition). (Oxford World's Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004) The Law Code of Manu is the most authoritative and the best-known legal text of ancient India. Famous for fifteen centuries it still generates controversy, with Manu's verses being cited in support of the oppression of women and members of the lower castes. A seminal Hindu text, the Law Code is important for its classic description of so many social institutions that have come to be identified with Indian society. It deals with the relationships between social and ethnic groups, between men and women, the organization of the state and the judicial system, reincarnation, the workings of karma, and all aspects of the law. Patrick Olivelle's lucid translation is the first to be based on his critically edited text, and it incorporates the most recent scholarship on ancient Indian history, law, society, and religion.
The Dharmasūtras of Āpastamba, Gautama, Baudhāyana, and Vasiṣṭha. Sanskrit editions and annotated translations. In Sources of Indian Law, ed. Patrick Olivelle. (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 2000) The Dharmasutras are the four surviving works of the ancient Indian expert tradition on the subject of dharma, or the rules of behaviour a community recognizes as binding on its members. They record intense disputes and divergent views on a wide variety of religious and social issues in this first English translation of these documents for over a century.
Co-Editor. Tamil Geographies: Cultural Constructions of Space and Place in South India (Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press, 2008) This interdisciplinary work explores how people in the Tamil region of India think about space and land, and how this, in turn, influences the creation of the social and aesthetic world they live in. Contributors focus on the notion of geography in its strictest sense, on verbal descriptions of land and space and how these descriptions build and inform diverse social and aesthetic realities. The essays examine "texts" drawn from a range of time periods and a variety of sources in Tamil culture, including imaginative literature, historical events and narratives, religious rituals, and daily life in contemporary Tamil Nadu. The book clearly demonstrates the ways in which early Tamil aesthetic and linguistic paradigms have survived to the present as living, vital expressions through which contemporary boundaries and social identities are shaped and constructed.
A Circle of Six Seasons: A Selection from Old Tami, Prakrit, and Sanskrit Verse (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2003) "While the striped frogs croak and the toads peep, the rains have begun. And now, he will be the monsoon guest of your fine wrists and ample shoulders. Driving his tall chariot with its tinkling bells, our lover will come back today." - Ainkurunuru, 468.
Dating from the first to late fourteenth centuries ce, this collection of 188 poems is gleaned from the three literary languages of classical India-Old Tamil, Prkrit and Sanskrit. Martha Ann Selby combines her unique mastery of these languages with her scholarship and poetical skills to offer a pan-Indian flavour of the changing seasons. The poems celebrate the rhythm and beauty of the cycle of time: summer, the rainy season, autumn, early winter, late winter, and spring. Nature is portrayed through a range of sensual, sexual and colourful images and allegories. The autumn poems, for example, depict a world washed clean by rains, ready for love, specifically, clandestine love, set in the hills among mists and blooming wild cane at night.
Grow Long, Blessed Night: Love Poems from Classical India (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) Captured in these centuries-old verses are the intoxication of new love, the romance of courtship, and the longing of separated lovers. Here are the voices of older women advising their younger friends, the words of messengers conveying secrets between lovers, and the musings of lovers to themselves. Culled from large anthologies that date from as early as the first century CE to as late as the eighth, Martha Ann Selby's masterful translations allow the poems to stand on their own in English while still maintaining the flavors of the original verses as reflected in idiom and structure. The book's 200 erotic poems are composed in India's three classical languages: Old Tamil, Maharastri Prakit, and Sanskrit, and grouped according to themes, with annotations provided whenever a brief gloss is necessary. After opening with several informative essays on the poems and how to read them, their origin, and the languages in which they were composed, the book proceeds with the delicate images, voices, and emotions of the verses themselves.
Tamil Love Poetry: The Five Hundred Short Poems of the Aunkurunuru. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011) Dating from the early decades of the third century C.E., the Ainkurunuru is believed to be the world’s earliest anthology of classical Tamil love poetry. Commissioned by a Cera-dynasty king and composed by five masterful poets, the anthology illustrates the five landscapes of reciprocal love: jealous quarreling, anxious waiting and lamentation, clandestine love before marriage, elopement and love in separation, and patient waiting after marriage. Despite its centrality to literary and intellectual traditions, the Ainkurunuru remains relatively unknown beyond specialists. Because of their form’s short length, the anthology’s five authors rely on double entendre and sophisticated techniques of suggestion, giving their poems an almost haikulike feel. Groups of verse center on one unique figure, in some cases an object or an animal, in others a line of direct address or a specific conversation or situation. Selby introduces each section with a biographical sketch of the poet and the conventions at work within the landscape. She then incorporates notes explaining shifting contexts.
Co-Editor. Chutnefying English, the Phenomenon of Hinglish (Penguin Books, 2011) 'Tension mat le yaar' 'Aaj Middle East mein peace ho gayi' 'Yeh dil mange more' 'Zara zara touch me touch me.' Something has happened to English; and something has happened to Hindi. These two languages, widely spoken across India, need to be understood anew through their 'hybridization' into Hinglish a mixture of Hindi and English that has begun to make itself heard everywhere from daily conversation to news, films, advertisements and blogs. How did this popular form of urban communication evolve? Is this language the new and trendy idiom of a youthful population no longer competent in either English or Hindi? Or is it an Indianized version of a once-colonial language, claiming its legitimate place alongside India's many bhashas? Chutnefying English: The Phenomenon of Hinglish, the first book on the subject, takes a serious look at this widespread phenomenon of our times which has pervaded every aspect of our daily lives. It addresses the questions that many speakers of both languages ask time and again: should Hinglish be spurned as the bastard offspring of its two parent languages, or welcomed as the natural and legitimate result of their long- term cohabitation? Leading scholars from literature, cultural studies, translation, cinema and new media come together to offer a collection of essays that is refreshingly new in thought and content.
Gandhi is Gone. Who Will Guide us Now? Nehru, Prasad, Azad, Vinoba, Kripalani, JP, and Others Introspect, Sevagram, March 1948 (Permanent Black, 2007) As India became free on 15 August 1947, and Jawaharlal Nehru became the first prime minister of the country, the larger ‘Gandhi family’, comprising the political and non-political associates of the Mahatma, needed to think through their future equations. Was a dividing line to be drawn between those who had entered public office and those who continued to do ‘constructive work’? The Mahatma had planned a discussion on this and, in his meticulous manner, identified the venue and date for the meeting, which he intended to attend in Sevagram on 2 February 1948. 30 January 1948 intervened. But thanks primarily to Rajendra Prasad and Vinoba Bhave, the proposed conference did take place, after a slight deferment, in March 1948. Without the Mahatma, the meeting acquired a new theme: ‘Gandhi is Gone. Who Will Guide Us Now?’ The record of discussions at the conference were typed out for limited circulation amongst the participants. The deliberations were largely in Hindustani, with the subject of India’s future lingua franca itself being one of the subjects of discussion. The record of that conference, unknown to the world until now, forms a fascinating document. Nehru sparkles in it, Vinoba glows, Kumarappa and Kripalani speak out trenchantly. The Gandhian legacy, and how to further it, is discussed threadbare from numerous perspectives. Industrialization, militarization, communalism, and the plight of refugees from Pakistan are among the subjects discussed. Published here for the first time sixty years on, the discussions of that conference remain amazingly pertinent, stimulating, and challenging today.
Co-Author. India before Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) India is a land of enormous diversity, in the food people eat, the clothes they wear, and in the places they worship. This was ever the case, and at no time more so than in the India that existed from 1200 to 1750 before the European intervention. This book journeys through the political, economic, religious, and cultural landscapes of medieval India from the Ghurid conquests and the Delhi Sultanate, through the rise and fall of the southern kingdom of Vihayanagara, to the peripheries of empire and, finally, to the great court of the Mughals. This was a time of conquest and consolidation, when Muslims and Hindus came together to create a culture, an architecture, and a tradition which was uniquely their own and which still resonates in today's India.Precolonial India in Practice: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra (N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2001) The society of traditional India is frequently characterized as static and dominated by caste. This study challenges older interpretations, arguing that medieval India was actually a time of dynamic change and fluid social identities. Using records of religious endowments from Andhra Pradesh, author Cynthia Talbot reconstructs a regional society of the precolonial past as it existed in practice.
Un/common Cultures: Racism and the Rearticulation of Cultural Difference (Duke University Press Books, 2010) In Un/common Cultures, Kamala Visweswaran develops an incisive critique of the idea of culture at the heart of anthropology, describing how it lends itself to culturalist assumptions. She holds that the new culturalism—the idea that cultural differences are definitive, and thus divisive—produces a view of “uncommon cultures” defined by relations of conflict rather than forms of collaboration. The essays in Un/common Cultures straddle the line between an analysis of how racism works to form the idea of “uncommon cultures” and a reaffirmation of the possibilities of “common cultures,” those that enact new forms of solidarity in seeking common cause. Such “cultures in common” or “cultures of the common” also produce new intellectual formations that demand different analytic frames for understanding their emergence. By tracking the emergence and circulation of the culture concept in American anthropology and Indian and French sociology, Visweswaran offers an alternative to strictly disciplinary histories. She uses critical race theory to locate the intersection between ethnic/diaspora studies and area studies as a generative site for addressing the formation of culturalist discourses. In so doing, she interprets the work of social scientists and intellectuals such as Elsie Clews Parsons, Alice Fletcher, Franz Boas, Louis Dumont, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Clifford Geertz, W. E. B. Du Bois, and B. R. Ambedkar.