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

Articles by Biswamoy PatiSubscribe to Biswamoy Pati

Documents from an Extraordinary Year

Towards Freedom: Documents on the Movement for Independence in India, 1947 by Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, General (ed), and Sucheta Mahajan Volume (ed), Part 1, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013; pp clv + 1,318, Rs 5,495. 


Teaching and Researching History in India

This article takes a look at different aspects to do with teaching and studying the discipline of history in the light of some recent developments, which by and large echo what has happened in the past. Though there are a few positives, there is not much to be sanguine about unless there is a radical overhaul of policies keeping in mind academic objectives and values.

The Diversities of Tribal Resistance in Colonial Orissa, 1840s-1890s

This article explores the nature of popular tribal resistance in colonial Orissa, highlighting a wide range of features. It emphasises the importance of locating cultures of resistance within the paradigms of social history. Alongside, it stresses the importance of seeing resistance as an interactive process involving a host of complexities. While highlighting the importance of the way the oppressed invented survival strategies, the article discusses the interrogations and contestations through which the marginal sections challenged the colonialist and the internal exploiting classes. It argues that these features need to be seen holistically in order to grasp the diversities of popular resistance.

Documenting the Colonial Archives on the Freedom Movement

Towards Freedom: Documents on the Movement for Independence in India - 1939, Part 1 and Part 2 edited by Mushirul Hasan (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2008; pp xxii + 980, Rs 3,950 and pp xxvii +1978, Rs 3,950, respectively.

Towards Freedom: Documents on the Movement for Independence in India - 1945 edited by Bimal Prasad (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2008; pp xxvii + 1082, Rs 3,950.

Religion and Social 'Subversion': Re-examining Colonial Orissa

Two major tribal resistance movements in colonial Orissa - the Mahima movement and the Munda rebellion - are discussed in this paper. Critical of the elitist approach of the Subaltern Studies group which depicts tribal/peasant revolts as "autonomous" and marked by "territoriality", this paper argues how these two movements transgressed the boundaries ascribed to them. Both the movements strategically employed a discourse of equality to fight their immediate oppressors. The Mahima movement represented an anti-caste, monotheistic order that sought to delegitimise the rajas and the brahmins. Similarly, the Munda protest (that was led by the Mundas who had converted to Christianity) in 1939 opposed the princely state of Gangpur and also confronted colonialism. In discussing these movements, the essay aims to delineate the fascinating aspects of popular imagination even as it highlights some of the limitations of the two uprisings.

Nehru Memorial Museum & Library - 1

I read the piece ‘Saving the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library’ (EPW, 27 June 2009) with interest. The idea of seeking to improve problems affecting any institution that draws upon the country’s resources is welcome

From the Parlour to the Streets: A Short Note on Aruna Asaf Ali

Aruna Asaf Ali's life and career were conditioned by her exposure to a political context which reflected diversity, secularism and anti-colonialism. Her political activism as a freedom fighter and a woman activist encompassed these strands of anti-colonialism and radicalism. It finally culminated in a clear support for socialism - marking her transition from being a member of the Congress to joining the Communist Party of India after independence.

Biju Janata Dal: Signal for Change

The rejection of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the recently held municipal elections in Orissa and the simultaneous endorsement of the Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal give an opportunity to the BJD to sever its connections with the National Democratic Alliance. By breaking free from the communal politics of the BJP, the BJD will only be living up to the ideals of its founder, Biju Patnaik, and can, if it wants to, rediscover itself as a secular party committed to the interests of the working poor.

Historians and Historiography

The many interpretations of the events of 1857 since the 150 years of its occurrence need to be seen in their historiographical context. This explains the narrow religious focus that contemporary observers bestowed on it as well as the nationalist aspirations that were seen to characterise 1857, as historians in the years immediately following independence in 1947 sought to establish. The important presence of 1857 in the creation of an Indian history and identity explains the many "myths" traced to it by various communities and groups, as well as the abiding interest of historians in the various facets of that special event. These are all aspects of 1857 that this special issue seeks to explore.

'White Woman's 'Burden'

Florence Nightingale and the Health of the Raj by Jharna Gourlay; Ashgate Publishing Company, Hampshire, UK, 2003; pp xi + 305, hardbound, price not mentioned.

BJP's 'Stumbling Blocks'

The Lok Sabha election results stunned the ruling NDA alliance. It was an election where neither the Sangh parivar's Hindutva campaign nor the hi-tech 'India shining' campaign triumphed. Rather it signalled a victory for the ordinary voter and for the politics that stands for a plural, diverse, welfare-oriented society.

Patriarchal Reinventions under Colonialism

Patriarchal Reinventions under Colonialism Gender, Caste and Religious Identities: Re-constructing Class in Colonial Punjab by Anshu Malhotra; Oxford University Press, New Delhi,


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