Robert Crews of Stanford University’s Department of History has penned an unusual narrative about Afghanistan, dispelling the negative portrayals of it—as an anachronistic, unchanging, primitive, and ethnically divided ‘graveyard of empires.’ From a rugged, variegated transit territory, it was cobbled into a country two and a half centuries ago. Its sense of nationhood has remained strong (it has not had a secessionist movement in recent memory), even if its state structure has been weak. Contrary to the current western discourse, Crews sees Afghanistan as ‘an expansive space that accommodated varying kinds of networks that crisscrossed the region and the globe, rather than a static collection of tribes
The very divergent political evolution of the Indian and Pakistani armed forces has long puzzled political analysts. Why has the Indian Army turned its back on domestic politics, while the Pakistan Army has directly ruled the country for extended periods and controls its national security policy? Why do the two Armies, cut from the same cloth, behave so differently?
R. Srivatsan’s theoretical intervention through his recent book, Seva, Saviour and State: Caste Politics, Tribal Welfare and Capitalist Development is about the politics articulated within the concept and practice of seva—politics of caste, politics of Hindutva, politics of secularism, politics of nationalism and politics of development.
This is an interesting and timely book on the Muslim dominated area of Jamia Nagar that has mushroomed around the Jamia Millia Islamia University campus. The author Tabassum Ruhi Khan has been closely associated with the Jamia University as a student of the University’s well-known Mass Communications Research Centre (MCRC).
In her remarkable work, Secluded Scholars: Women’s Education and Muslim Social Reform in Colonial India (Oxford University Press, 1999), Gail Minault speaks of the ‘daughters of reform’ who contributed in multiple ways to the social and political movements in India, more than most acknowledged earlier.
‘How does a former colonial power deal with its colonial past, generations after the loss of empire?’ The opening line of Gert Oostindie’s piece in this book sums up the underlying theme of this work which is essentially a comparative study on the aftermath of Decolonization in the West, the way decolonization was memorialized and the subtle shifts in memorializing.
This archives’ role in the subsequent writings on Indian history and historiography are valuable. In another essay, ‘The Policing of Tradition’, Dirks shows how the category of ‘brahman’ was defined by a variety of interventions by colonial authorities. His work is also valuable as a comment by a serious historian on the historiography of India as well.