Vinay Lal
Bunche 5240; x58276
Office Hrs: Tue & Th

History 197 /201
Spring 1996
Wed, 2:00-5:00

Subalterns, Rebels, and Outcastes:

Explorations in Modern Indian History

Introduction: In the early 1980s, there emerged in India a 'school' of history that goes by the name of 'Subaltern Studies'; this 'school' has now gained a world-wide reputation, and 'Subaltern Studies' is beginning to make its influence felt in Latin American Studies, African Studies, 'cultural studies', and other arenas. Where previously the history of modern India, and particularly of the nationalist movement, was etched as a history of Indian 'elites', now this history is being construed primarily as a history of 'subaltern groups'. How are we to think about subalterns? Who and what are the 'subalterns', and how did this military term begin to be used as the center-piece of a body of work on resistance? We will begin with a consideration of the original problematic of subaltern histories and then ask how such histories can be written. What are the problems of writing such histories? 'Subaltern Studies', viewed as a collective enterprise, represents the most significant achievement of South Asian 'cultural studies'; it has effectively contested what were until recently the dominant interpretations of Indian history, and more generally it has provided a framework within which to contest the dominant modes of knowledge. However, subaltern history has not always had an easy relationship with feminism, and we will also interrogate the place of feminism within subaltern history. Feminist historiography, more than anything else, has brought questions of voice, agency, and resistance to the fore, and in this connection we will look at an oral history of women in the Telengana uprising, and some articles drawn from a recent anthology on constructions of womanhood and women in colonial India. The course will, in the final weeks, move to debates among subaltern historians, and a consideration of the argument that Subaltern Studies has been contaminated by post-modernism. Finally, we will ask: how do subaltern historians write histories of 'great men'? Does subaltern history condemn us to writing only of the history of this or that rebellion, this or that oppressed group? Are only fragmentary narratives possible, or is it possible to write a history of the nationalist movement as a whole, and if so, does that necessarily become a master narrative? The course will conclude with a discussion of Ashis Nandy's The Intimate Enemy, not a work belonging to the Subaltern School, but one of the most significant works on colonial India nonetheless; and we shall be interested particularly in attempting to locate it in relation to subaltern history.

Course material: All material on the syllabus will be placed on reserve in the college library. There will a reader for the course; any articles in the syllabus not found in the reader, or any one of the books ordered for you, will also be on 2-hour reserve. Items in the reader are indicated by a R in bold letters. The following books have been ordered at ASUCLA for your purchase (all Oxford books are Delhi, Oxford University Press, unless otherwise stated):

Shahid Amin, Event, Metaphor, Memory (Oxford and Princeton)

Dipesh Chakrabarty, ed., Subaltern Studies, Vol. VIII

Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought & the Colonial World (Minnesota)

Partha Chatterjee & G. Pandey, eds., Subaltern Studies, Vol. VII (Oxford)

Ranajit Guha, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency (Oxford)

Ranajit Guha, ed., Subaltern Studies, Vol. V (Oxford)

Ranajit Guha, ed., Subaltern Studies, Vol. VI (Oxford)

Ranajit Guha and G. Spivak, eds., Selected Subaltern Studies (N.Y.: Oxford)

Eugene Irschik, Dialogue and History (Berkeley: Univ. of California)

Ashis Nandy, The Intimate Enemy (Oxford)

Stree Shakti Sangathana,We Were Making History (Zed Books)

Requirements: As this is a seminar, your active participation is not merely expected and desirable, but indispensable. The only formal requirement is a paper which should be not less than twenty pages long. You may either tackle some of the books in the course and write a critical piece -- for example, you could discuss some of the achievements, shortcomings, or possibilities of subaltern historiography, or you could write on the discrepancies between feminist and subaltern histories -- or you can do a research paper, which would undoubtedly require some additional reading. You could look at the relation between subaltern history and what is more generally termed 'history from below'; you could consider the configurations of class in subaltern history, in relation to E.P. Thompson's work on class; or you could interrogate subaltern history by using Carlo Ginzburg's work on microhistory. The possibilities are infinite. This paper will be due by the Friday of the last week of classes.

Calendar of Readings:

Week 1: Who are Subalterns?

E. J. Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels, pp. 1-29, 108-125, 150-53, in R.

Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, ed. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1973), "Notes on Italian History", pp. 52-55 and "The Study of Philosophy", pp. 323-343. R

Amitav Ghosh, "The Slave of Ms. H.6", in Subaltern Studies VII (Delhi: Oxford, 1993), pp. 159-220.

Weeks 2: Aims and Limits of Subaltern Historiography: The Programmatic Notes and the 'New' Collaborationist History

Ranajit Guha, "On Some Aspects of the Historiography of Colonial India", and "The Prose of Counter-Insurgency", both in Selected Subaltern Studies, ed. R. Guha and Gayatri Spivak (New York: Oxford, 1988).

Eugene F. Irschik, Dialogue and History: Constructing South India, 1795-1895 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

Week 3: Subaltern Studies: The Foundational Text

Ranajit Guha, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India (Delhi: Oxford, 1983).

Weeks 4 and 5: How Do We Write Subaltern Histories?

Dipesh Chakrabarty, "Conditions for Knowledge of Working-Class Conditions: Employers, Government and the Jute Workers of Calcutta, 1890-1940", in Selected Subaltern Studies.

Sumit Sarkar, "The Kalki-Avatar of Bikrampur: A Village Scandal in Early Twentieth Century Bengal", in Subaltern Studies VI (Delhi: Oxford, 1989), pp. 1-53.

Patha Chatterjee, "Caste and Subaltern Consciousness", in Subaltern Studies VI, pp. 169-209.

Ranajit Guha, "Chandra's Death", in Subaltern Studies V (Delhi: Oxford, 1987), pp. 135-165.

Upendra Baxi, "'The State's Emissary': The Place of Law in Subaltern Studies", in Subaltern Studies VII, pp. 247-264.

Gyanendra Pandey, "The Colonial Construction of 'Communalism': British Writings on Banaras in the Nineteenth Century", in Subaltern Studies VI, pp. 132-68.

Week 6: The Construction of an 'Event'

Carlo Ginzburg, "Two or Three Things I Know About Microhistory", Critical Inquiry R.

Shahi Amin, Event, Metaphor, Memory: Chauri Chaura, 1922-1992 (Delhi: Oxford University Press; Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1995).

Week 7: Feminism and Subaltern Historiography

Partha Chatterjee, "The Nationalist Resolution of the Women's Question", in Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid, eds., Recasting Women: Essays in Indian Colonial History (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 233-253. R

Stree Shakti Sangathana. We Were Making History: Women and the Telengana Uprising. (London: Zed Press, 1990), pp. 1-73, 137-79, 258-84.

Vasantha Kannabiran and K. Lalitha, "That Magic Time: Women in the Telangana People's Struggle", in Recasting Women, pp. 180-203. R

Julie Stephens, "Feminist Fictions: A Critique of the Category 'Non-Western Woman' in Feminist Writings on India", in Subaltern Studies VI, pp. 92-125.

Susie Tharu, "Response to Julie Stephens", in Subaltern Studies VI, pp. 126-31.

Gayatri C. Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?", in Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg, eds., Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (Urbana & Chicago: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1988), pp. 271-313. R

Week 8: Writing the History of Nationalist Elites

Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? (London: Zed Books; reprint, U. of Minnesota Press, 1993).

Shahid Amin, "Gandhi as Mahatma: Gorakhpur District, Eastern UP, 1921-2", in Selected Subaltern Studies.

Sumit Sarkar, "Orientalism Revisited: Saidian Frameworks in the Writings of Modern Indian History." Oxford Literary Review 16 (1994):205-224.

Recommended: Ranajit Guha, "Discipline and Mobilize", in Subaltern Studies VII, pp. 69-120.

Week 9: Debates on Subaltern Historiography

Veena Das, "Subaltern as Perspective", in Subaltern Studies VI, pp. 310-314.

Gayatri C. Spivak, "Deconstructing Subaltern Historiography", in Subaltern Studies IV (Delhi: Oxford UP, 1986), or her introduction to Selected Subaltern Studies.

Rosalind O'Hanlon, "Recovering the Subject: Subaltern Studies and Histories of Resistance in Colonial South Asia", Modern Asian Studies 22, 1 (1988):189-224. R

Gyan Prakash, "Writing Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World: Perspectives from Indian Historiography", CSSH 32, 2 (April 1990):383-408; also published in revised form as "Writing Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World: Indian Historiography Is Good to Think", in Colonialism and Culture, ed. Nicholas Dirks (Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 1992), pp. 353-88. R [CSSH: Comparative Studies in Society and History]

Rosalind O'Hanlon and David Washbrook, "After Orientalism: Culture, Criticism, and Politics in the Third World", CSSH 34, 1 (Jan. 1992):141-167. R

Gyan Prakash, "Can the 'Subaltern' Ride? A Reply to O'Hanlon and Washbrook", CSSH 34, 1 (Jan. 1992):168-85. R

Dipesh Chakrabarty, "History as Critique and Critique(s) of History." Economic and Political Weekly 26, no. 37 (14 Sept. 1991):2162-66. R

Dipesh Chakrabarty, "Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History: Who Speaks for 'Indian' Pasts?" Representations, no. 37 (Winter 1992):1-26. R

Dipesh Chakrabarty, "Radical Histories and Question of Enlightenment Rationalism: Some Recent Critiques of Subaltern Studies." Economic and PoliticalWeekly 30, no. 14 (8 April 1995):751-59. R

Week 10: The Other Within: A Different Subaltern History, Perhaps, and Some Caveats on History

Ashis Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism (Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press, 1983).

Vinay Lal, "On the Perils of Historical Thinking: The Case, Puzzling as Usual, of India." Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies 3 (1996); revised version in Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (1996). R

Ashis Nandy, "History's Forgotten Doubles", History and Theory, Theme Issue 34 (1995):44-66. R