The book under review with its intriguing title is by Gail Omvedt, the pioneering historian of Jotiba Phule and his movement. Since the publication of Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society (1976) Omvedt has maintained a steady stream of publications on Ambedkar and lower caste movements which have enlarged our understanding of dalit resistance and assertion.
‘Subhashini’, the author declares at the beginning of the book ‘is all but absent from history, though history is not absent from her life’. A cryptic statement as this carries us nowhere. Who is it who does not have history in their lives, although not all lives are in history or are material for history?
Ranajit Guha has over his long career as the ‘founder and guiding spirit of Subaltern Studies’ (p. 1) and also for his own passionately committed writing, earned great significance worldwide among scholars and students of colonial and post-Independence Indian history and of the nature of historiography in general.
This book by Anne Broadbridge is an interesting portrayal of diplomacy and kingship in the medieval Islamic world. Written in a narrative style, the details on the dynasties and the Sultans sometimes get monotonous but this does not take away the importance of the details that she provides lucidly on the role of ideologies,
Tribal studies in India have been dominated by the romanticization of tradition visualizing the egalitarian community institutions as a pivot that propelled grassroot democracy and regulated the relationship of the tribals with their environment. Anthropologists like Haimendorf and Verrier Elwin have also suggested that the women in these societies enjoyed true freedom and equal status in tribal societies as compared with non-tribal caste societies.
This book is a study of the history of printing in South India focussed on the role of folklore in printed books. The author approaches the matter from a folklorist’s perspective and finds the proverbial saying “that print did not produce new books, only more old books” holds true. The history of modern folklore research tells us that textualization of Indian folklore – the orally transmitted tales, songs and other verbal expressions – was started by British collectors in India in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Calcutta defies all stereotypes. It is commonly believed that the civic chaos and economic stagnation that would have killed any other city have not been able to subdue the spirit of this strange urban agglomeration. Lina Fruzzetti and Akos Ostor, the editors of this book, have been smitten like many others by this irrepressible vitality and have been coming to the city since the mid-1960s, observing and parjticipating in the moveable feast.
This is a big, heavy book weighing about 5 lbs., but it is not heavy reading. On the contrary, it seems designed for scatter-brained, distracted reading—rather like watching a TV Talk Show, punctuated by commercial breaks and ‘recaps’ for those ‘who have just joined us’. The breaks here consist of numerous film and shooting stills from Mrinal Sen’s films, which interrupt rather than illustrate the text. Like those commercials, however, some of the stills are independently interesting.