ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Modern Kerala in First Person

Writing the First Person: Literature, History, and Autobiography in Modern Kerala by Udaya Kumar, Ranikhet and Shimla; Permanent Black, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Ashoka University, 2016; pp xi + 324, ₹895.

In the published work on modernity in Kerala, the history of the modern self in the state has been, hitherto, a concern largely of feminist historians and scholars of culture. This is not coincidental, as any consideration of the appearance of modern gender as a principle of social differentiation must indeed rest upon historical reflections on the appearance of conceptions of interiorities and inner capacities that are not subservient to premodern caste and other visibilities of the body. However, because most of such feminist work is still dismissively identified as pertaining merely to “women,” or “gender,” understood as a limited concern, their claims have not been taken up with the seriousness that they deserve. Udaya Kumar’s work has been an exception to this, and therefore the book under consideration breaks this silence remarkably does not come as a surprise.


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