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

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Knowledge and Social Control

Krishna Kumar The Transmission of Knowledge in South Asia edited by Nigel Crook; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1996; Rs 495. THIS book is about the relations between education and power. Religion and the media have also been included in this theme. The appearance of this volume offers some reassurance to the effect that the desire to examine factors controlling access to knowledge has not quite drowned in the din of post-modernism and internetism. It makes sense that the attempt has been made at the behest of historians. Their focus is south Asia, or rather the pre-partition territory of India; in fact, mainly northern India. This rather narrow concept of south Asia notwithstanding, the volume can be said to introduce a much-needed corrective into the remarkably parochial body of literature produced by European and North American scholars, such as Bourdieu and Apple, on production and reproduction of knowledge. At times it looks as if these eminent progressive scholars have no concern for societies less materially endowed in the prevailing international order than their own. A recent tome, entitled Education: Culture, Economy, Society, edited by A H Halsey and others (OUP, 1997), has not one among its 52 essays about the colonially exploited parts of the world. The south Asia focus of the present volume also, to a modest extent, compensates the neglect of education as an important sphere of the study of Indian history. The seminar at which the papers published here were first presented was held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1991. Nigel Crook's introductory essay summarises the common concern of the contributions as an attempt to conceptualise and describe the social agenda underlying the transmission of knowledge. The obvious question, whether south Asia can be seen as a single socio-cultural unit, is recognised and disposed of early, with the statement that "in this volume we are more inclined to focus on the plurality of cultures". "More inclined" is accurate, because the volume simply does not have enough contributions which might represent the demographic, geographical, religious and linguistic diversity of the Indian subcontinent, let alone the rest of south Asia. Bengal emerges as one area of focus; the Indo-Gangetic belt as another. Neither is fortuitous, because these are the areas about which some decent spade work on educational history exists. In terms of

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