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Issue Articles

The Legal and the Lethal

AFSPA and the incarceration of justice in Nagaland
AFSPA keeps apart ideas of law and justice; a separation that makes the Nagas 'killable', as in Oting. The law incorporates them into the Indian nation-state as rights-deprived subjects — and, in the process, reveals the dark side of Indian democracy.

‘Dear Mr. Gandhi’

Letters from a Mailbag in History
The first two volumes of 'Letters to Gandhi', covering 1889-1910, trace a fine-grained texture of Gandhi’s life in the initial decades of public life. They offer vignettes of a rapid rise in the public sphere and dogged work in the face of overwhelming odds.

Guru, Spy, or Lost Archduke?

Was John Orth a self-proclaimed ‘guru’ in the US in the early 20th century, or a one-time rug-dealer suspected of being a Russian spy, or perhaps the Austro-Hungarian archduke Johann Salvator himself? A story across many continents of many lives and claims.

India’s Princes, the Ingenious Rebels against the Crown

India’s maharajahs during colonial rule were much more than the stereotypes we have of profligate spenders and incompetent rulers. They were complicated personalities who could subtly resist imperial pressures and at times supported the nationalist cause.

How Should We Remember the Violence and Suffering of Partition?

"What does it mean then to remember the ‘horror’ of partition at a time when identities are so polarised. Do we remember only what was done to us, leaving out all that we did to others and to our own?"

The Kashmiri Women Demanding Answers

Zia’s ethnography of Kashmiri women activists seeking redressal for the enforced disappearance of their relatives resonates with the struggles faced by many across India's conflict zones.

Casting Race in Another Light

Colonialism, Orientalism & Wilkerson’s Caste
Arguing that race in America is actually caste, Isabel Wilkerson seeks to startle the readers who may have become numbed by debates on race. But by overplaying what is not much more than a clever analogy, she might actually be weakening her argument.

A History of Ordinary People in France

‘How a family lived in their ordinariness for three centuries, and the mode of telling this story throws light on the "big events" in France from the pre-revolutionary era to the French Revolution and its aftermath.’

The Crisis of Citizenship in Assam

Autonomy and social justice are often in a tense relationship in Assam. While the demands for autonomy reflect the desire for territorial control over land, demands for social justice reflect an insistence on citizenship and equality under constitutional law.

The Cycles of History

The US departure from Kabul has drawn inevitable comparisons with the exit from Saigon in 1975, but ‘history’s eternal shadow, namely, the future, will always throw up surprises no matter how carefully we curate the past to tell us what we want to believe’.

The Making of India’s Linguistic Landscape

India's linguistic landscape is much too vast and diverse to neatly contain within one clean narrative. Various forces — not just linguistic — have shaped individual languages, leading up to the modern forms we use today.

The Deadly Fever

A people’s history of the influenza epidemic in India
"The history of influenza serves as a reminder of how Indians & individuals across the Global South have long experienced the ravages of epidemics, and how marginalised peoples across the globe made meaning from the devastation as they struggled for survival."

India: From the World’s Largest Democracy to an Ethnocracy

The principle that Hindus can rule and marginalise others has firmly established itself beyond the BJP and the RSS. This emerging ethnocracy in India draws on electoral victories and legislative majorities, making formal suspension of democracy unnecessary.

Planning Bangalore

The colonial legacy of discriminatory housing
'Improvement' measures in Bangalore pushed the poor, the subordinated castes, and the working classes to the edges of planned development. The city's layout continues to reflect these inequalities.

The Nation State and Modern Sport

'National feeling is not something that has been injected into sport by swaggering players, corrupt politicians, and a scheming media looking to boost ratings; it is native to modern sport, something that is built into its historical evolution.'

The Strange ‘Hindu Murders’ of the US West Coast in the Early 20th Century

In the 1930s, a spate of murders claimed the lives of several Punjabi men in California’s Central Valley region. US police and press were quick to ascribe these killings to mysterious old ‘Oriental’ cults and factional rivalries.

The Politics of Language in Assam

Language has been at the heart of political debate in Assam since the formation of the British colonial province of Assam in 1874, then through the turbulent decades leading to Independence, the separation of Sylhet during Partition, and into our times.

‘Conquering Delhi’

The popular culture of the farmers’ protests
Cultural motifs of the Sikhs' ‘conquest’ of Delhi animate the art and music of the farmers’ movement. Memories of defiance and triumph, juxtaposed with images of the protests, inspire the farmers to go on despite hardships.

Himalayan Histories

The Himalayas have been a zone of global interactions and exchanges over the centuries, quite unlike the stereotype of remoteness and isolation.

Rammohun Roy's ‘Gift'

His first published piece
On the eve of the 250th birth anniversary of Rammohun Roy, a discussion of his 'Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhiddin', a tract written in Persian on the One Universal Truth.

Misreading the Past

The UGC’s New Framework for Indian History
A new undergraduate history curriculum reduces the complexity of the past to simplistic ideas of religious difference. The official promotion of such ahistorical thinking adds weight to the project of misreading the past to fuel divisive passions.

Historical Roots of the Rise of Hindutva in West Bengal

For a century, Hindu organisations have worked amongst Dalits in Bengal to incorporate them into the religious community, while the Left excised the question of caste from its discourse. These legacies have come to the fore as the BJP rises in the state.

The Cultural Unity of the Deccan Plateau, 1347–1687

Between the 14th and 17th centuries, the states of the Deccan drew on the same resources to base their authority -- the memory of the prestigious Chalukyas maharajas of Kalyana, and the prestige associated with Persian language and culture.
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