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

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Learning to See an Early Indian History of Regions

The Changing Gaze: Regions and the Constructions of Early India by Bhairabi Prasad Sahu; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, India, 2013; pp 344, Rs 850.

In a politely provocative manner, B P Sahu invites readers, academics or otherwise, to turn their heads ever so slightly and look towards the ancient and early historic Indian landscape in a different manner. In asking us to engage in a subtle, nuanced, yet robust repositioning of our gaze, he presents an alteration of colour, hue, shadow and perspective in how one looks to the past to construct it before reconstructing past narratives. This repositioning is not about a theory of seeing, as much as it is a theorisation of standpoint and an epistemological inquiry into the very questions that are foundational to archaeological and historical knowledge construction: the sites and scales of our analysis.

It is important to note at the outset that this volume is a compilation of work previously published and seminar papers presented by Sahu between 1996 and 2011. As such this volume stands as a testament to an accomplished career of a senior professor of early historic India: research that consistently focuses on the history of regions as they are shaped in the context of interrelationships with and between local, regional and trans-regional elements. Sahu’s oeuvre illustrates the development of ideas and theories of an academic researcher grappling with redefining ways of knowing the past. These reconstructed narratives are inherently reflective of the political moments within which they have been transcribed into knowledge. Throughout this volume, Sahu forces us to contend with how our questions mask the inequality within the structures of knowledge construction that reflect contemporary inequity in society.

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