The twelfth volume of Subaltern Studies comprises essays broadly linked by an interest in the history of Muslims and Dalits in South Asia, or with the manner in which dominant histories in the subcontinent have been ‘fabricated’.
Shahid Amin examines how a persistent image of ‘the Mussalman’ came into being via the work of Hindi writers and publicists in the late nineteenth century. He suggests that this image was not derived from popular memory but conjured up for political deployment. He reveals the enormous mileage gained by this image, both ‘then’ and ‘now’.
M.T. Ansari looks at the history of Mappila peasant ‘uprisings’ in the early twentieth century, and at how these came to be discursively constructed to arrive at an image of the fanatic Mussalman. This then yielded the argument that the Muslim fanatic was a religious fundamentalist who had either to be confined or killed. This essay also thus carries resonances of present-day fabrications of Islam.
Faisal Fatehali Devji’s essay on Gandhi’s politics of friendship offers an interesting counterpoint to the preceding two. Focusing on the Khilafat Movement, it studies friendship in one of Gandhi’s boldest experiments—his attempt to rethink political relations between Hindus and Muslims. In looking at Gandhi as ‘a spoiler within the rhetoric of colonial India’, Devji points implicitly to the importance of Gandhian ideology in contemporary India.
Milind Wakankar examines the anomalous position of Kabir within the frameworks of caste and canonicity. His essay serves here as a bridge between the issue of Untouchables/Dalits on the one hand and Hindu-Muslim relations on the other.
Anupama Rao looks at the history, politics, and legal aspects of an incident in which a Dalit kotwal was murdered on the steps of a Hanuman temple. Governmental discourse and Dalit rights are illuminated in important new ways in this essay.
Praveena Kodoth’s essay analyses authority, property, and matriliny in colonial Malabar. It offers a detailed study of the codification of custom and looks at the ideas and assumptions that shaped colonial law-making.
Rashmi Dube Bhatnagar, Renu Dube, and Reena Dube investigate the rhetoric of bardic historians in Rajasthan and interrogate colonial perspectives of that tradition.
Prathama Banerjee investigates a crucial imperative of nationalism—pride, love and adoration of one’s nation—through acts of the imagination in colonial Bengal.
SHAIL MAYARAM is Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. She is the author of Against History, Against State: Counterperspectives from the Margins (2003) and Resisting Regimes: Myth, Memory and the Shaping of a Muslim Identity (1997).
M.S.S. PANDIAN’s publications include Image Trap: M.G. Ramachandran in Films and Politics (1992).
AJAY SKARIA teaches history at the University of Minneapolis. He is the author of Hybrid Histories: Forests, Frontiers and Wildness in Western India (1999).