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

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Subaltern Consciousness and Historiography of Indian Rebellion of 1857

of Indian Rebellion of 1857 Darghan Perusek The subaltern historians' rewriting of history has two objectives: (I) the dismantling of elitist historiography by decoding biases and value judgments in records, testimonies, and narratives of the ruling-classes; and (2) the restoration to subaltern groups of their 'agency', their role in history as 'subjects', with an ideology and a political agenda of their own. While the first objective has yielded some interesting and important insights, the second has led to results which have been, at best, problematic, and, at worst, tediously neo-antiquarian and remarkably unremarkable in their banality. These problems derive from the contradictions and confusions inherent in the very concept of subalternity as a socio/political category MY interest in the 1857 rebellion is more than academic It has partly to do with the story of how my great-grandfather Baba Karak Singh was awarded a 'jagir' (an estate and its revenues) by the British for loyalty', in the midst of a 'contagion' of betrayal and treachery by mutinous sepoys (soldiers) and disaffected landlords, magnates and peasants. Faithful to his masters, the old man, so the family legend goes, rode like the wind on a dark and moonless night to bring to the officer in charge details of the secret military plans of the rebels. My greatgrandfather's name does not appear in any official roll-call of heroes or villains, pre-independence or post-independence; he was too minor a figure, too insignificant to be deserving of such notice by history. But he was remembered very well by his children and their children for the ill-gotten land that he left them, which grew sugarcane that sharecroppers planted and harvested and paid one-third as revenue to him, and the freshness and sweetness of which my mother could still taste in her mouth years later when she spoke of Baba Karak Singh and his family jagir. So much for innocence.

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