The not so small subaltern voice

One of the strongest voices that argued for a subaltern view of Indian history is Ranajit Guha, "whose writings have had a massive and formative impact on contemporary scholarship in several disciplines throughout the world: on postcolonial studies in literature, in anthropology, in history, in cultural studies, in art history.

Guha first became known as the practitioner of a critical Marxism that ran parallel to the work of British and French Marxist historians of the 1960s and 1970s but which, instead of re-creating a ‘history from below’, sought active political engagement with the present by deploying insights drawn from Gramsci and Mao. More recently, Guha’s writings have drawn attention to the phenomenological and the everyday, and been noticed for their sustained critique of the disciplinary practices of history-writing.

Guha’s reputation rests most famously on his international role as founder and guiding spirit of Subaltern Studies, the series of essays and monographs that have, over the past three decades, critiqued colonialist and nationalist historiographies. While spawning new ways of thinking about history in Europe, Latin America, and the USA, these have created a ferment richer than anything else emerging out of modern South Asia, even as they have unsettled many existing frameworks of thought.

Guha’s fascinatingly diverse historical and political writings, dating from the 1950s and tucked away in obscure journals and collections, have been virtually inaccessible." So far.

Permanent Black has just brought out Guha's The Small Voice of History: Collected Essays which have been edited by Partha Chatterjee, Guha's co-traveller on the subaltern path.

In our Essays and Nonfiction Section, and in History. In Hardcover, 675pages, Rs 995. ISBN: 9788178242552