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A leading scholar in early twentieth-century India, Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1870-1958) was knighted in 1929 and became the first Indian historian to gain honorary membership in the American Historical Association. By the end of his lifetime, however, he had been marginalized by the Indian history establishment, as postcolonial historians embraced alternative approaches in the name of democracy and anti-colonialism. The Calling of History examines Sarkar's career--and poignant obsolescence--as a way into larger questions about the discipline of history and its public life. Through close readings of more than twelve hundred letters to and from Sarkar along with other archival documents, Dipesh Chakrabarty demonstrates that historians in colonial India formulated the basic concepts and practices of the field via vigorous--and at times bitter and hurtful--debates in the public sphere. He furthermore shows that because of its non-technical nature, the discipline as a whole remains susceptible to pressure from both the public and the academy even today. Methodological debates and the changing reputations of scholars like Sarkar, he argues, must therefore be understood within the specific contexts in which particular histories are written. Insightful and with far-reaching implications for all historians, The Calling of History offers a valuable look at the double life of history and how tensions between its public and private sides played out in a major scholar's career.
In Habitations of Modernity, Dipesh Chakrabarty explores the complexities of modernism in India and seeks principles of humaneness grounded in everyday life that may elude grand political theories. The questions that motivate Chakrabarty are shared by all postcolonial historians and anthropologists: How do we think about the legacy of the European Enlightenment in lands far from Europe in geography or history? How can we envision ways of being modern that speak to what is shared around the world, as well as to cultural diversity? How do we resist the tendency to justify the violence accompanying triumphalist moments of modernity? Chakrabarty pursues these issues in a series of closely linked essays, ranging from a history of the influential Indian series Subaltern Studies to examinations of specific cultural practices in modern India, such as the use of khadi--Gandhian style of dress--by male politicians and the politics of civic consciousness in public spaces. He concludes with considerations of the ethical dilemmas that arise when one writes on behalf of social justice projects.
Inspired by Antonio Gramsci's writings on the history of subaltern classes, the authors in Mapping Subaltern Studies and the Postcolonial sought to contest the elite histories of Indian nationalists by adopting the paradigm of "history from below." Later on, the project shifted from its social history origins by drawing upon an eclectic group of thinkers that included Edward Said, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. This book provides a comprehensive balance sheet of the project and its developments, including Ranajit Guha's original subaltern studies manifesto, Partha Chatterjee, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Gayatri Spivak.
First published in 2000, Dipesh Chakrabarty's influentialProvincializing Europeaddresses the mythical figure of Europe that is often taken to be the original site of modernity in many histories of capitalist transition in non-Western countries. This imaginary Europe, Dipesh Chakrabarty argues, is built into the social sciences. The very idea of historicizing carries with it some peculiarly European assumptions about disenchanted space, secular time, and sovereignty. Measured against such mythical standards, capitalist transition in the third world has often seemed either incomplete or lacking. Provincializing Europeproposes that every case of transition to capitalism is a case of translation as well--a translation of existing worlds and their thought--categories into the categories and self-understandings of capitalist modernity. Now featuring a new preface in which Chakrabarty responds to his critics, this book globalizes European thought by exploring how it may be renewed both for and from the margins.
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