This book consolidates scholarship on Gujarat in English and other European languages, notably, Dutch, German, French, Italian and Portuguese. It draws together well-known sources, as well as rare and under-expended research material. Detailed bibliography reference are provided for books, chapters, periodical literature, dissertations project-reports, other materials published since 1800; anonymous works and select government publications, such as gazetteers and census reports spread across the disciplinary boundaries of history, political and development studies, literature and the liberal arts, sociology, cultural and social anthropology. In these respects, the book is a comprehensive introduction to modern traditions of scholarship on Gujarat.
The reader is however also encouraged to treat the references as artefacts of power each entry playing some role in the way we have come to know what we know about Gujarat today. Writing often has a social life, entertaining relations with other texts, with other authors, and with a readership. Annotations pointing to some of these connection are provided, especially when title are uninformative, argument, data or provenance notable, or when serendipity has demanded. In this respect, the text can be read to trace the genealogy of certain ideas, regional traditions and preoccupations in the literature. Taken as a whole, the book can be read creatively as an alternative form of regional history, as a condensation of the literature from which current ideas about Gujarat have been formed The book also contains a substantial introduction based on new and original research on the key themes in the literature on Gujarat and how these themes spill into popular politics and life in the region at present.
Society and History of Gujarat since 1800: A Select Bibliography of the English and European Language Sources is an invaluable guide to anyone interested in modern Gujarat, an audience which will include activists, administrators, scholars, students and others with critically informed minds.
Edward Simpson is a lecturer in social anthropology at ht eschool of Oritental and African Studies, London.
In the past, two bibliographies of primarily English sources on Gujarat were compiled, annotated and printed. The first was produced by the historian V K. Chavda (1972). It mainly covers the period between 1600 and 1857, treating the affairs of Sur at and Baroda with particular fondness. The Government of India (Satyaprakash 1976) was responsible for the second, placing emphasis on popular post-independence sources. I have not reproduced the entire content of these works, and both, but particularly the one by Chavda, remain valuable sources of reference.
As an historian, Chavda introduced Gujarat with a pithy chronological narrative of political events since the sixteenth century (1972: 1-28). He recounted how, in 1572, Akbar hoisted his flag, so to speak, in Ahmadabad to mark the advent of Mughal rule; Muslim rule passed gradually to the Marathas throughout the eighteenth century. The castle at Surat fell to the British in 1761. Alexander Walker became the first British political resident in Baroda in 1802, taking Kathiawad and Kutch by treaty soon after. Gujarat, Chavda observes, was not particularly affected during the uprising of 1857; independence and Partition pass without mention. His chronology terminates in 1960 with the formation of Gujarat from the northern sections of the older Bombay State.
A century ago, there was no Gujarat in the way we understand it now. In its place was a patchwork of semi-independent states intermingled with colonial British territory, stretching from Kutch to the hills of Chota Udaipur in the East. Two hundred years ago, the difference was greater still. From the mid-to-late nineteenth century, however, there was a swell in support for the idea of a cultural Gujarat. The literati, in particular, attempted to write Gujarat and a people into existence: to make the Gujarat we now know.'
Throughout the twentieth century, the movement gathered pace as politicians and intellectuals further attempted to will the state into being as they competed for representation and resources in the new India. Some years after independence, the region included the separate states of Kutch and Saurashtra, and the 'mainland' was part of Bombay State. Kutch and Saurashtra were also merged with Bombay in the second half of the 1950s. Following concerted campaigns, and occasionally violence, the newly enlarged state was divided in two, into Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1960.2
The publication of this book then, coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of Gujarat. From the perspective of a social scientist, Gujarat is a political and cultural construction (or at least it is a product always in the making), the self- evidence of which can be dismantled by critically examining the historical processes that went into its formation. In other words, there is nothing 'natural' or self-evident about the population and land of Gujarat.
As an anthropologist, and in this spirit, I am going to introduce the region through an exploration of some of the dominant cultural and intellectual themes, as I see them. Rather than describing the region as a temporal sequence or as a unit of geography, this introduction examines some of the contrasting ideas about life that inhabit the region, as represented in the lives and works of particular individuals. In the process, I hope to shed some light on the genesis and sociology of ideas current among sections of the middling and the bourgeoisie in Gujarat. The ideas of these classes are important not simply because they are well represented in the literature but because the ideas of an elite minority have affected the ways in which the lives of the less-vocal majority have generally been (mis)-understood.
However, before I do this, it is worth pausing to reflect for a moment on the fact that despite modern Gujarat being so obviously a political contrivance, it is also the case that the idea of Gujarat, as a distinct region, appears persistently in the writing of the earliest travellers, as well as in the colonial archive, the textual traditions of other parts of India, and in the minds of those now known as 'Gujaratis' (see Shiekh 2010; Yagnik, Achyut and Sheth 2005 on this in different ways). Many elderly people, for instance, who may well have been known at the time of their birth by sub-regional (Surti or Halari, for instance) or caste and religious names (jain, Ismaili and so forth) may now often think of themselves as Gujaratis. The idea of Gujarat has been readily naturalised, even by those on the geographical and cultural margins, and among the sizable diaspora already overseas.
Each of the following three sections of this introduction presents a separate political and social vision of Gujarat. Each section also represents part of the broader story explaining how the idea of Gujarat has been so readily naturalised. First, I examine the presentation of Gujarat in the work of the post-colonial historians of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Makrand and Shirin Mehta. Second, I look at the nature and form of research carried out in the name of the Gujarat Research Society in between 1935 and 1960. Finally, I turn to the life and work of a little known 'Gujarati' freedom fighter, Shyamji Krishnavarma, who was writing in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, but whose ideas and persona have been reinvigorated in Gujarat at the turn of the twenty-first century. Many of the chronological and thematic connections between the three sections are obvious, but I return at the end to formerly spell some of them out.
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