History at the Limit of World-History

Kobo ebook | June 19, 2012

byRanajit Guha

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The past is not just, as has been famously said, another country with foreign customs: it is a contested and colonized terrain. Indigenous histories have been expropriated, eclipsed, sometimes even wholly eradicated, in the service of imperialist aims buttressed by a distinctly Western philosophy of history. Ranajit Guha, perhaps the most influential figure in postcolonial and subaltern studies at work today, offers a critique of such historiography by taking issue with the Hegelian concept of World-history. That concept, he contends, reduces the course of human history to the amoral record of states and empires, great men and clashing civilizations. It renders invisible the quotidian experience of ordinary people and casts off all that came before it into the nether-existence known as "Prehistory."

On the Indian subcontinent, Guha believes, this Western way of looking at the past was so successfully insinuated by British colonization that few today can see clearly its ongoing and pernicious influence. He argues that to break out of this habit of mind and go beyond the Eurocentric and statist limit of World-history historians should learn from literature to make their narratives doubly inclusive: to extend them in scope not only to make room for the pasts of the so-called peoples without history but to address the historicality of everyday life as well. Only then, as Guha demonstrates through an examination of Rabindranath Tagore's critique of historiography, can we recapture a more fully human past of "experience and wonder."

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The past is not just, as has been famously said, another country with foreign customs: it is a contested and colonized terrain. Indigenous histories have been expropriated, eclipsed, sometimes even wholly eradicated, in the service of imperialist aims buttressed by a distinctly Western philosophy of history. Ranajit Guha, perhaps the m...

Ranajit Guha is founding editor of Subaltern Studies and author of a number of celebrated books, including Dominance Without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India. He has held various research and teaching positions in India, England, the United States, and Australia. He currently lives in Austria.

other books by Ranajit Guha

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Dominance without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India
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see all books by Ranajit Guha
Format:Kobo ebookPublished:June 19, 2012Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231505094

ISBN - 13:9780231505093

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Historicality and the Prose of the World
3. The Prose of History or the Invention of World-History
4. Experience, Wonder, and the Pathos of Historicality
5. Epilogue: The Poverty of Historiography-A Poet's Reproach
Appendix: Historicality in Literature by Rabindranath Tagore

Editorial Reviews

This book is definitely worth a read for those interested in questions pertaining to everyday life and also in recent postcolonial efforts to rethink the practices of disciplinary history.