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

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Ranajit Guha (1923–2023)

Renowned Historian Who Pioneered Subaltern Studies

The historiographical interventions of Ranajit Guha proved to be immensely consequential towards heralding a radical change in the study of modern Indian history. Guha’s foundational contributions towards the project of Subaltern Studies conceived of new methods and ways of reading conventional sources of historiography, recovering the voices of the oppressed and the marginalised within it.

During the last three decades of the 20th century, there was a radical change in the field of modern Indian history, and it is associated above all with Ranajit Guha, who died on 28 April 2023, a few weeks short of his centenary (he was born on 23 May 1923). Hitherto, historians of the subcontinent had focused largely on the affairs of the elites, whether imperial officials, indigenous rulers, or nationalist leaders, with the mass of the people appearing as little more than a backdrop. Now, Guha urged, we could make the people the subject of an alternative history. He put this into practice by forging new ways of writing this history. Although the poor and oppressed left almost no records of their own, they were described in often scornful and condescending ways in the official archives. Guha found ways to use these accounts to understand their feelings, beliefs, and forms of political organisation and action in more credible ways. This became known as reading the records created by the elites “against the grain.”

Who and What Are the Subaltern?

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Updated On : 8th Jul, 2023
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