Subaltern Studies

History 275F

Fall 2014
2303 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Tu 2-4P

This is a beginning graduate seminar course designed to introduce history students to Subaltern Studies, considered a major intervention in both Indian nationalist history and the wider discipline of history itself.

Subaltern Studies as a collective was brought together by Ranajit Guha in the late 1970s with the explicit aim of generating a new kind of history writing which would, in the immediate context of Indian nationalist history, put the peasant back into the narrative of a nationalist history s/he had actively produced. However, this proved no meagre task. Within India Subaltern Studies had to challenge not just bourgeois elite (and conventional) Indian nationalist historiography that focused on the great nationalist figures (Gandhi, Nehru) to the exclusion of all else, but also take on a dominant Marxist orthodoxy and its grip on rural and economic history. Outside India, Subaltern Studies located itself in opposition to the vastly influential Cambridge School that saw all of Indian nationalism as a “loaves and fish” contest for local power and patronage, as well as the hegemonic understanding within the professional world of the discipline of history, of both the concept of “history” and the concept of the “archive.” Subaltern Studies brought together a group of scholars who combined theoretical acumen with interdisciplinary methodologies, borrowing from the work of social history, social anthropology, structuralism, linguistics and semiotics in particular.

This course will revisit (rather than merely retrace) some moments in the history of the making of the Subaltern Studies problematic, with a focus on the relationship between method, the archives, and the craft of history writing. It will also introduce the class to some new works in the field of folklore, the intersection of gender and popular culture, varieties of approaching ‘the popular’, and the writing of ‘popular’ and ‘alternative histories’ with special attention to caste.

Course Books

The Pariah Problem: Caste, Religion, and the Social in Modern India by Viswanathan, Rupa Columbia University Press. ISBN: 978-0231163064 Required
The Swadeshi Movement by Sarkar, Sumit Orient Blackswan. ISBN: 978-8178243351 Required
The Agrarian System of Mughal India: 1556-1707 by Habib, Irfan Oxford India Paperbacks. ISBN: 978-0198077428 Required
A Rule of Property for Bengal: An Essay on the Idea of Permanent Settlement by Guha, Ranajit Duke University Press. ISBN: 978-0822317715 Required
Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India by Guha, Ranajit Duke University Press. ISBN: 978-0822323488 Required
Subaltern Studies: Writings on South Asian History and Society, Vol 6 by Guha, Ranajit Oxford Univ Press, Delhi. ISBN: 978-0195635362 Required
Subaltern Studies: Writings on South Asian History and Society, Vol 3 by Guha, Ranajit Oxford Univ Press, Delhi. ISBN: 978-0195635294 Required
Subaltern Studies by Guha, Ranajit Oxford Univ Press, Delhi. ISBN: 978-0195634433 Required
Locality, Province, Nation: Essays on Indian Politics, 1870-1940 by Gallaghar John, Johnson Gordon, and Seal, Anil Cambridge. ISBN: 978-0521098113 Required
The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian Kingdom by Dirks, Nicholas University of Michigan Press. ISBN: 978-0472081875 Required
Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge by Cohn, Bernard Princeton. ISBN: 978-0691000435 Required
Nationalism and Colonialism in Modern India by Chandra, Bipan Orient Longman. ISBN: 978-8125008095 Required
Event, Metaphor, Memory: Chauri Chaura, 1922-1992 by Amin, Shahid Penguin India. ISBN: 978-0520087804 Required