Cultural History of Modern India
Dilip M. Menon
180 x 240 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

The history of modern India has been narrated largely in terms of the nationalist movement, personalities and what has been seen as the ‘high’ politics of the state. Recent shifts in history writing have tried to bring in subordinated histories of regions and of groups. We are moving towards a wider understanding of politics, history and of the ordinary people who make history. Cultural History of Modern India tries to push the emerging paradigm further by moving away from conventional notions of the history of the nation and indeed of the political.

The seven essays in this collection present original and pioneering forays in the study of cricket, oral history, gender studies, film, popular culture and Indian classical music. Whether looking at issues of caste on the seemingly level-playing field of cricket in early twentieth-century India; or how a nineteenth-century housewife comes to pen the first autobiography by an Indian woman; calendar art reflecting deeper notions of religion and community; or how an idea of ‘pure’ classical music faces the challenge of technology, these essays show how ideas of self, community and art are formed within a larger politics. Moreover, culture far from being a refuge from the political is also the space within which politics comes to be worked out.

This book serves as an introduction to the idea of cultural history in modern India and is aimed at the layperson as much as an undergraduate and graduate audience in the social sciences and humanities.

Dilip M. Menon is Professor of History and Mellon Chair in Indian Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Preface and Acknowledgements


1. Cricket and Caste: The Heroic Struggles of the Palwankar Brothers
Ramachandra Guha

2. A Book of Her Own, A Life of Her Own: The Autobiography of a   
Nineteenth-Century Woman
Tanika Sarkar

3. The Past in the Present
Rustom Bharucha

4. National Identity and the Realist Aesthetic
Sumita S. Chakravarty

5. ‘Unity in Diversity?’ Dilemmas of Nationhood in Indian Calendar Art
Patricia Uberoi

6. Guru and Gramophone: Fantasies of Fidelity and Modern
Technologies of the Real
Amanda Weidman

7. Things Fall Apart: The Cinematic Rendition of the Agrarian Landscape in   
South India
Dilip M. Menon

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