ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Dipesh ChakrabartySubscribe to Dipesh Chakrabarty

Remembering Pandian

M S S Pandian, who passed away in New Delhi after a cardiac arrest on 10 November 2014, at the age of 57, was among the younger members who joined the editorial collective of the Subaltern Studies in 1990.

Fifty Years of E P Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class

For all the criticisms that can be made of it, E P Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class remains a magnifi cent and majestic tribute to human political will and imagination, the sheer capacity of the oppressed to struggle, however inchoately and inconclusively, for imagined and better alternatives to the present.

Subaltern Studies in Retrospect and Reminiscence

The Subaltern Studies project is now over three decades old. One of the founding members of the collective looks back at the "generative errors" which help carry the idea forward, even if the project is formally closed.

Expiating the Doctrine

After Utopia: Modernity, Socialism, and the Postcolony by Aditya Nigam (New Delhi: Viva Books), 2010; pp x + 282, Rs 895.

A Europe in the World? Twenty Years After 1989

What should Europe be in the 21st century - a superstate with a nation state-like function, a Europe with a unified foreign policy, or a partner in an emerging system of interactive global governance and regulation? Not just a Europe dealing effectively with the world but a Europe that actually is in that world.

Bourgeois Categories Made Global: Utopian and Actual Lives of Historical Documents in India

When the state acts as a mechanism that abstracts documents from their points of origin and make them into the signifiers of an abstract entity called "history", and the market performs this function of abstraction, we have the processes, respectively, of reification and commodification of documents. The process of creating "unfettered" access to historical information can be seen as the prying open of information that was otherwise accessible only to a "privileged" community. This is a tension that is central to the very idea of the public sphere: it can act simultaneously both as a utopia of "bourgeois" equality and as an ideology of domination. It can be simultaneously democratic and undemocratic. The agents and advocates of the public sphere are often the bearers of this tension for we never find a society where all its members, inspired by the social value of what we call "history", volunteer to convert willingly all "private" documents into "public" records. The rendering of private papers into public documents must remain, in the end, a political question. This paper illustrates this proposition by looking at a fragment of the history of history in colonial India in the 20th century. At the centre of the story is the historian Jadunath Sarkar who may be regarded as one of the earliest proponents in the subcontinent of the Rankean ideals of "scientific" history.

The Power of Superstition in Public Life in India

Why are superstitions a part of public life in India? The modern mechanisms for risk-management or "disciplines" ranging from statistics to modern medicine exist side-by-side with superstitions in the country. The answer to why these disciplines have not penetrated into the pores of Indian society lies in the history of political power in India.

Remembering 1857

To discuss the practice of memory and its relations to politics, social scientists rely on three kinds of practices - memorialising, memorising and the act of remembering/forgetting. The commemoration of "1857" is unique in that official celebrations of the event have been instituted even as 1857 continues to refigure in myths and endures as a symbol of popular resistance. The articles in this special issue address the seeming contradictions and complexities that "remembering" 1857 involves, and the tension that prevails between different kinds of recall.

Mangal Pandey: Film and History

Debate over the film, Mangal Pandey, has raged on its putative lack of objectivity on the one hand, and on the other, on its depiction of an event that still has the power to "move" people. Ever since films emerged as a mass medium of significance, the notions of the "public sphere" in democracy have changed as well. This is especially so over remembering an event such as 1857, on which Indians continue to have very differing opinions. This paper argues that concerns over the film, as with 1857 itself, speak of an unresolved question of Indian democracy, i e, whether the two domains of Indian democracy, comprising the "elite" and the "subaltern", can ever combine to produce a "politics of the people". Such a politics would give Indian democracy both a working sense of sovereignty and a lively sense of being truly a democracy.

Legacies of Bandung

While postcolonial theorists recognise that the colonial situation did produce some forms of hybridity, anti-colonial theorists have been driven by the urge to decolonise. The politics of decolonisation followed by newly independent nations of the mid-20th century often displayed an uncritical emphasis on modernisation; development, that pursued with technology and tools of scientific progress, was a "catch-up" exercise with the west. However, with the globalisation of ideas and practices, commensurate with the "democratisation" of politics around the 1970s, hitherto marginalised groups also sought a more global, "deterritorialised" identity. The period saw the rise of post-structuralist and postmodern theories, that were opposed to the territorial imagination of the nation state. Currently, as humans, objects and practices continue to move seamlessly beyond nation states, this other side of decolonisation - representing the thoughts of the colonised on a "dialogue across differences" - remains vital but as yet an unfinished project.

"In the Name of Politics"

The histories of sovereignty and democracy in India have taken a route different from the trajectory adopted by some western countries. In India, colonial sovereignty was often reduced to domination, yet ?internal wars? waged on the basis of religious, caste or even linguistic divisions, continued. Post-colonial India remains thus, a social body perpetually traversed by relations of war. As this article argues, neither colonial rule, nationalism nor even democracy in India has seen the production of a sovereignty necessary for the construction of a ?society? amenable to disciplinary power and its politics. Indian democracy thus furnishes an interesting case where the political task of creating the typically modern mix of ?sovereignty? (rights) and disciplinary domination arises not before but after the coming of universal adult franchise and a democratic polity.

Ranajit Das Gupta A Tribute

Dipesh Chakrabarty RANAJIT DAS GUPTA, noted economic and labour historian, passed away in Calcutta on August 3 this year having suffered an incurable infection of meningitis. Born in 1932, Das Gupta grew up in Jalpaiguri in north Bengal and eventually came to Calcutta University for his higher degrees. His MA in economics completed in 1954' he taught for many years at City College, Calcutta. Between 1974 and 1977 he was a fellow at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, He joined the faculty of the Indian Institute of Management in 1984 and retired from that position in 1992, holding a senior fellowship of the Indian Council of Historical Research in the 1990s. A long-standing member of the Communist Party of India, he combined in his ideas and his writings the objectivity and open-mindedness of a scholar and the committed outlook required of an activist. At the same time of his death, he was a member of the editorial board of the CPT publication Kalantar, held the position of president of the newly-formed Salt Lake Labour Society in Calcutta,' and was actively involved in the life of the organisation Nagarik Mancha which played an important role in the celebrated workers' strike at the of the Kanoria Jute Mill a few years ago. These involvements speak of Das Gupta's ability to combine academic work with a commitment to action.


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