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

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Redefining the Object of Political Science

Critical Studies in Politics: Exploring Sites, Selves, Power edited by Nivedita Menon, Aditya Nigam and Sanjay Palshikar (Orient BlackSwan), 2014; pp 564, Rs 995.

The collection of articles in this book represents an ambitious attempt to, in the words of the editors, “redefine the object of the study in the discipline in which we are located – political science” (p 17). They see their endeavour as part of a historical moment in which a radical destabilising of disciplinary formats is under way and try to map out what they hope will be a new project for political theory.

While retaining the overarching concept of “the political” as distinguishing the subject matter of political science they would broaden the notion of the political to include all spaces where power is being interrogated. And they make no attempt to demarcate political power from other modes of power. This notion of the subject matter of political science would of course immediately widen the traditional scope of studies in the discipline and the methods which can be used. Also, a wide range of sources and archives would become relevant for studies in politics. This is evident in the different articles which have been included in the book. To mention just a few, there are studies of pilgrimages, of the lived beliefs and practices of a group of Shia women in Delhi, the political practices of the valley dwelling Meitei in Manipur in inventing a cultural core to hold the community together, the practices which developed around epidemic control in British India, and population control and demography in India.

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