Thich Nhat Hahn

Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist Zen master of Vietnamese origin, is a human rights activist and a renowned organizer of retreats on the art of mindful living. Thây (‘teacher’), as he is generally known to his followers, also pioneered the concept of ‘engaged’ Buddhism during the Vietnam War when he gave a call to interlink meditation practices and social activism.

Reviewed by: K.T.S. Sarao
Aparajita Basu

The book, a narrative of the growth of chemical sciences during the colonial period, is authored by a trained analytical chemist whose work presents an insider’s view on the subject.

Reviewed by: V. Sujatha
Mushirul Hasan

Third Frame: Literature, Culture and Society, a new quarterly journal seeks, according to its editors, to provide a platform for ‘voices and concerns from developing societies’.

Reviewed by: Chitra Harshvardhan
Omprakash Valmiki

The knowledge of the universe in the social sciences can be divided into two exclusive spheres—normative and creative. Both provide an understanding of the history, economy, culture and politics of existing societies.

Reviewed by: C. Lakshmanan
Akshaya Kumar

Poetry, lest it should sublimate into a rarefied expression beyond the possibilities of participation, needs to be recovered from the excesses of soulful profundities. If the ‘novel’ de-escalates the epic imagination, poetry in its march in the domain of the secular, too peels off the sedimentations of sublimity.

Reviewed by: Anup Beniwal
Edna Fernandes

Edna Fernandes, a British Indian journalist, has written about the Kerala Jews ‘charting their rise and fall, from their heyday to a decline in the twentieth century and the twenty-first century denouement’.

Reviewed by: C.R. Sridhar
Suvarna Cherukuri

Fieldwork in a ‘total institution’ is perhaps among the most challenging sites for ethnographic exploration and Suvarna Cherukuri’s attempt to represent the lives of women in a prison in India, is commendable for taking up this challenge.

Reviewed by: Mahuya Bandopadhyay
Swati Bhattacharjee

This collection of 17 articles (including the introduction) is a must read for feminists, law reformers, lawyers and judges. It compiles a range of perspectives on the social and juridical frameworks of rape in complex and yet accessible ways.

Reviewed by: Pratiksha Baxi
Anjali Gandhi

This book is an outcome of a seminar on the National Policy for Empowerment of Women, organized by the Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women Studies and the Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. It comprises twelve essays which are organized around four broad themes of women’s empowerment, women’s work, religion and health.

Reviewed by: Ramila Bisht
Urmila Pawar and Meenakshi Moon

Wandana Sonalkar’s timely and elegant translation of Urmila Pawar and Meenakshi Moon’s account of the Ambedkar movement and its key women activists, Amhihi Itihas Ghadavila—first published by Stree Uvac in Marathi in 1989—extends the frame of a masculinist dalit history which is typically narrated as ‘history before and after Ambedkar’.

Reviewed by: Anupama Rao
J. Devika

Kerala has, since the 1970s, assumed an undisputed position for being a ‘model’ of Third World development. The pillars of this model are a well-rehearsed litany—favourable sex ratios, high literacy, high life expectancy, low child mortality, and, yes, . . . low fertility. Till the 1970s,

Reviewed by: Rachel Simon-Kumar
Sanjukta Dasgupta and Malashri Lal

This book under review draws upon a wealth of talent to throw light on an institution that even as it is familiar remains been little examined. This book explores literary and cultural representations of the Indian family to examine the evolution of the Indian family from ancient times, through the colonial period to the present.

Reviewed by: Gitanjali Prasad
Sabyasachi Bhattacharya

The aim of the book is to explicate the moorings and development of social, economic and political thought prior to the institutionalization of social science disciplines at universities in India.

Reviewed by: Valerian Rodrigues
Kobena Mercer

The defining moment of Pop art is in the 1960s, the materials in question for analyses are film, television, magazines, billboard advertising. These question the elitism and insularity of modern art.

Reviewed by: Susan Visvanathan
Pramod K. Nayar

In this contribution to Indian Cultural Studies Pramod Nayar focuses on those intersections of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture where the hegemony of one kind of public culture is established; an aspect that has informed the contours of cultural identity since Independence. Strategies of exclusion and inclusion ensure that paradoxically both ‘high’ (museum) and ‘popular/mass’ (conventional cinema, comic book) culture are in fact working towards maintaining the status quo and the idea of a pan-Indian identity.

Reviewed by: Madhu Sahni
Steeve Fuller

The New Sociological Imagination argues that there are two trends which pose a serious challenge to 21st century sociology. One pertains to the role of social sciences in society, the other to the biological challenges to social sciences in an academia where it is no longer out of the ordinary to privilege nature over nurture.

Reviewed by: Maitrayee Chaudhuri
Kultar Singh

This book on Quantitative Social Research Methods, as stated by the author in the preface, is a modest attempt by a development practitioner to examine the application of social research methods in the development sector.

Reviewed by: G. Srinivas
David Denney

Risk has come to dominate individual and collective consciousness in the twenty-first century. Although global insecurity has been created by terrorism, pollution, global epidemics, and famine risks involved in aspects of everyday life such as food, sunlight and travel have become major preoccupations.

Reviewed by: Vivek Kumar
Manu Bhagavan and Anne Feldhaus

This anthology, a tribute to the life and work of Eleanor Zelliot, compiles the issues, topics and works closely associated with her. Zelliot virtually pioneered studies on anguish among dalits and changed the very paradigm of such studies.

Reviewed by: Gurpreet Bal
Grace Davie

The book under review promises to propel a host of questions related to religion, society and self. These questions have acquired new forms, proportions and meanings at a chaotic time.

Reviewed by: Neshat Quaiser
Mukul Kesavan

The Ugliness of the Indian Male is an uneven collection of assorted essays—journalistic and academic—written by Mukul Kesavan from time to time. A trained historian, an avid reader, cinema and cricket connoisseur and political commentator, Mukul Kesavan’s essays bear an imprint of his varied interest.

Reviewed by: Ashutosh Mohan
Mary Holmes

This thin volume entitled What is Gender?, an introductory textbook on the sociological approaches’ to gender, provides a competent and comprehensive overview by organizing issues involved into a neat analytical frame.

Reviewed by: Geetika De
S.V. Rajadurai and V. Geetha

Roughly 2500 years ago, there lived a man called Socrates, who maintained that a life not examined was a life not worth living. Tragically, for that very reason, he was put to death by being forced by the Athenian state to drink hemlock. Closer home, in the first seventy-odd years of the twentieth century, lived a Socratic figure, called Periyar E.V. Ramaswami, who suffered a fate worse than state-sponsored murder.

Reviewed by: Nalini Rajan