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

OrientalismSubscribe to Orientalism

Not Going beyond the Orientalist History of Indian Railways

A Short History of Indian Railways by Rajendra B Aklekar, Rupa Publications, 2019; pp 248, ₹ 295.

Vernacular Nations

Postcolonial Asia offers at least seven types of states and nations. In their somewhat uncritical pursuit of total nationalism, territorial Asian states compete with their archipelagic cousins. The sea gypsy nations--spread across the South China Sea and other East Asian states--reject the monopoly of land as the only inhabitable space, discounting territory as an essential constituent of a nation. Ironically, while history kept them outside the fold of the territorial states, the present attempts to co-opt them. Only by challenging, as the Asian sea gypsies do, land's claim to being the sole inhabitable territory within law, and rethinking the sea as a place of danger can we truly vernacularise our statist imaginations.

Mapping the Enemy

The images of Islam which inform the RSS and its carefully nurtured and directed hatred are not limited to the Hindu right alone but are found in popular and academic discourses both in India and the west. They bear little relation to the reality of Islam as lived by Muslims in India and around the world where faithful adherence to the tradition coexists with tolerance of other faiths. But this reality exists outside the Orientalist grids which inform our understanding of Islam.

Modernity, Terrorism and the Masquerade of Conflict

America's wars on Afghanistan and Iraq have raised many questions on terrorism, modern war, the role of Islamic fundamentalism in opposition to the west's appropriation of modernity and the continuing relevance of imperialist military and economic aggression in contemporary north-south debates. Terrorism is a form of identitarian conflict which has a history rooted in the colonial past of many third world countries. Afghanistan is a good example illustrating the consolidation of so-called modern and traditional identities in modern history. Time and again western imperialist powers have portrayed Afghanistan as the battle frontier of western civilisation. This essay offers a deconstruction of this western mythology and points out that a holistic critique of the western appropriation of real and symbolic modernity is necessary to comprehend the problem of religious terrorism and thereby wrest the anti-American initiative from the terrorist.

Western Alarmism and Indo-Pak Tensions

Orientalist hallucinations do not fully explain the psychological war that the western establishment and media have unleashed as India-Pakistan tensions have risen. Two calculated motives come across as important causes for the 'nuclear war' bogey.

Pilgrim's Progress

The Unknown Hsuan-tsang edited by D Devahuti; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2001; pp xxix + 185, Rs 495.

'Terrible Tuesday': Worm's and Bird's Eye Views

There are two views, the worm's and the bird's on every event, including 'Terrible Tuesday'. The worm's (or the FBI's) view might tell us how the tragedy was planned and who were involved in the act. In contrast, the bird's (or the scholar's) view tells us why the tragedy occurred and how long it has been in the making. To make sense of the disaster we need to look at it from both angles.
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