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

Subaltern StudiesSubscribe to Subaltern Studies

Subaltern Historiography, the Working Class, and Social Theory for the Global South

The Indian Freedom Movement (1857–1947) was a significant period which had a politically important impact on the Indian state’s subsequent formation. The historiography of the movement was until recently much more monochromatic than the movement itself, highlighting the contributions of “great men.” The Subaltern Studies Collective (1980s–present) rejected this approach, taking a broader and more productive approach to telling the story of the movement via the bottom-up contributions to Indian history. Surprisingly, however, what became known as Subaltern Studies has downplayed the empirical role of the working class. One reason for this underemphasis is a specific and culturally essentialist mode of appropriating the work of E P Thompson, Carlo Ginzburg, and Hayden White, who are declared influences on Subaltern Studies. Why that was so remains an important question.

Marginalised Narratives of the Indian Freedom Movement

More importance should be given to recovering the stories of marginalised people who were involved in the struggle for independence.

Widening the Frames of Subaltern Studies

New Subaltern Politics: Reconceptualizing Hegemony and Resistance in Contemporary India edited by Alf Gunvald Nilsen and Srila Roy, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015; pp x + 318, ₹ 850.

Brahmanism, Liberalism and the Postcolonial Theory

Indian academic scholarship and politics have remained caught between the triangulate frames of Brahmanism, liberalism and postcolonial theory, papering over the commonalities between the three in their "politics of accommodation," and the fact that they cumulatively privilege similar bhadralok scholarship. Indian politics today is witnessing an implosion of intra-subaltern conflicts which cannot be captured either through East versus West or subaltern versus elite kind of frames.

Subaltern Studies, Bollywood and Lagaan

Using 'Lagaan' as a case in point, this paper argues that popular Bollywood films with their appeal to the mass audience of uprooted peasants, factory workers, the unemployed, uneducated and poor can decolonise the imagination of the Indian masses. It points out that Lagaan's efforts at indigenisation and interrogation of prescribed discourses of modernity and history deserve credit for making possible the creation of public debates within a culture where the majority of the population is non-literate, and is unable to partake in elite discussions of culture and modernity.
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