Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s Is Indian civilization a myth?

I enjoyed reading this collection of essays. The titular essay felt as if ended abruptly; however, many of the other pieces in the book are well rounded. I specifically enjoyed his interview (the last piece in the book) as well as his experiences in Lisbon and Delhi school of economics as a researcher. I have always wondered about the criticism of insiders versus outsiders; while it is far more easier to shrug off the criticism of the outsider (by simply attributing motives, for example) than that of an insider; for the same reason, the insiders who happen to criticize have to face much more brutal opposition; and, I have not thought about this aspect till I read Subrahmanyam’s piece on Salman Rushdie.

The book can also be considered as an anthropological study of academic world in general, and history and social sciences in particular; for example, there are some must read passages towards the end of the Rushdie piece and the entire chapter on the global market for Indian history.

Finally, the book is also peppered with anecdotes like this one:

… Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak wrote one of her most celebrated essays: ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ At the time, a folklorist is said to have responded: ‘More importantly, can the bourgeois listen?’

On the whole, a must read; strongly recommended.

PS: By the way, for a hardbound edition at Rs. 595/-, this is really a good buy (though, there are several typos that I noticed). Permanent black is a publishing house that is worth following!

One Response to “Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s Is Indian civilization a myth?”

  1. gaddeswarup Says:

    Somewhat related but about music,frr paricularly the last parts http://www.ethnomusic.ucla.edu/pre/Vol15/Vol15html/V15Field.html

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