Webster has written a valuable and outstanding supplement to his earlier The Christian Community and Change in Nineteenth Century North India (1976). The study of Christian communities in India, their history, culture and social structure has recently acquired an independent identity within the academia.
India’s colonial connection is paradoxical—on the one hand, we celebrate the severance of this tricentennial relationship and on the other we perpetually savour its overwhelming nostalgia. Reams of publications in Modern Indian history castigate the colonial interlude as one of a massacre of a glorious tradition,
Given the general state of our archives and the scant respect awarded to the preservation of books and manuscripts, it takes both courage and perseverance to accost and overcome the formidable obstacles put in the way of the scholar. If the scholar is seeking to look at the book itself as the object of research, her path is likely to be very thorny indeed.
Metcalf’s new book charts a new course. If in line with his earlier books like Ideology of the Raj and Imperial Visions, the scope and range of this one are different. It shows how the Indian Ocean area formed a sub-empire under the British, where India had the dubious distinction of being at the centre and an active agent of the empire.
In the opening line of his new history of the Indo-Afghans, Raziuddin Aquil complains that ‘the study of medieval Indian history suffers from what is characterized as Mughal centrism’ (p. 1). He is right at a number of levels, for the problem is not only that the imperial Mughal behemoth has captured the lion’s share of modern historians’ attention, but also that most of the Persian histories of the Indo-Afghans were written during the reign of the Mughals.
The robust and adaptive medical traditions of Tibb-i Unani have contained complex and changing meanings and practices over time. Seema Alavi’s extensive research, including into the oral traditions of her own distinguished Azizi family of hakims based in Lucknow, informs her sophisticated social and cultural history of Unani in north India from the time of the Mughal empire through the British Raj.
The Emergence of the Delhi Sultanate is a voluminous work, considering that it covers only a phase i.e. 1192-1286 ad. It is a refreshing intervention and convincingly breaks the long-held opinion that the Delhi Sultanate was a monolithic, authoritarian, centralized state.
The book under review is part of a series titled A People’s History of India whose general editor is Irfan Habib. It deals with the period between c. 700 and c.350 bc in which several important historical developments have been identified in the spheres of economy, society, polity and religion and each of these is discussed separately in the four chapters of the book.
At the heart of the book are two masterly surveys of the issues at stake in the interpretation of the available linguistic and archaeological evidence. J.M. Kenoyer brings his reputation as one of the most accomplished Harappan archaeologists of his generation and crafts a measured piece documenting what archaeological reason can illuminate and equally demonstrate what constitutes inappropriate questions for the discipline.
In theory, the word ‘conservation’ brings to mind a science requiring careful knowledge of ecological principles for the preservation, protection and restoration of human-impacted landscapes. In practice, it has also become a contentious stage for debate, where politics – local, national and global – engages with policies, governments impact the lives of local communities, and development displaces conservation.