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SUBCONTINENTAL HISTORIES: literary reflections on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Jasbir Jain

SUBCONTINENTAL HISTORIES: literary reflections on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Jasbir Jain


ISBN 9788131609286
Publication Year 2018
Pages 298 pages
Binding Hardback
Sale Territory World (Except USA and Canada)

About the Book

Subcontinental Histories is an exploration of the historical events of the last two centuries, interpreted here through literary texts – fiction, poetry and drama – works which move away from the immediacy of history to analyse it in retrospect. They represent the individual voices, the restlessness and discontent as well as the fissures in the idea of a nation. Documents such as letters, speeches and newspaper articles, similarly offer a different view of reality when freed from the immediacy of the expression.

The subcontinent has a shared past both of the colonial experience and the resistance movements it generated, and of the many efforts to imagine and construct a nation. Beginning with India’s past and the many causalities of ideas and ideologies on the way to freedom, the present work goes on to  look at the aftermath of divisive nationalisms leading to the partition of the country, before moving to the many manifestations of terror in India and its neighbouring countries, the race for nuclear weapons and environmental concerns.

Several  writers and thinkers of this period have been discussed – Jotiba Phule, Henry Derozio, Rabindranath Tagore, Bankimchandra, Mahatma Gandhi, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Kazi Nasrul Islam, Pash, Kamila Shamsie, Girish Karnad, Shahid Nadeem, Badal Sircar, Intizar Husain, Saadat Hasan Manto, Attia Hosain, Allan Sealy, Nadeem Aslam, Githa Hariharan, Mumtaz  Shahnawaz –  to enable a dialogue between the past and the present.

This work opens up the past to a rethinking and reassessment of events that have moulded our times and need to be interrogated.


Introduction: the burden of the past
1 literature as an artefact of history: the turns we missed the reluctant rise of nationalism
2 the mai-baap syndrome: feudalism, divisive polity and the reluctant rise of nationalism
3 activism and answerability: unpicking the postcolonial discourse
4 re-viewing the renaissance: an investment in modernity? political shifts and dialogues
5 the coming of gandhi: his experiential evolution in the political world
6 the aftermath of divisive nationalisms in the subcontinent: a nation divided
7 mass exodus: mourning together or alone? shared histories: separate territories
8 the dialectics of history: narratives of the subcontinent’s participation in the empire’s wars
9 breaking the silence: poets, revolutions and politics
10 dissent and the performative medium: ipta and ajoka violence and its continuities
11 terror: the many manifestations of an abstraction
12 the travels of maoism in the subcontinent
13 why did saeed mirza write ammi? nuclear weapons, development and environment
14 woman as text: violence and the human
15 baramaha, the lacanian ‘real’ and sealy’s the everest hotel
16 bhoma: the eternally resurrected

About the Author / Editor

Jasbir Jain, Emeritus Professor, University of Rajasthan and recipient of  the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship as Writer in Residence, K.K. Birla Fellowship  and several other awards, has also taught at several universities abroad including, Copenhagen (Denmark) and Tampere (Finland). Jain has an extensive range of research interests across languages and genres and has authored several books. Some of her noteworthy publications are Indigenous Roots of Feminism (2011), Theorising Resistance (2012), You Ask, I Tell  a  translation of Hansa Wadkar’s autobiography with Shobha Shinde (2013),The Diaspora Writes Home (2015), Forgiveness: Between Memory and History (2016) and Bridge Across the Rivers co-edited with Tripti Jain (2017).