What is the meaning of “subaltern”?
- It means to be of a lower status or rank, whether because of race, class, gender, sexual
orientation, ethnicity, or religion.
What was “Subaltern Studies”?
Subaltern Studies applies to scholars interested in the postcolonial and post-imperial societies. Their
approach is one of history from below, focused more on what happens among the masses at the base
levels of society than among the elite. An example would be a study of Indian sentiments towards the
British during colonisation.
Why and how did it recast the study of India?
-It focused the study of India from a bottom up perspective rather than a top down one.
-It recast the study of India by blackballing certain tribes (whose stigmatic effects are felt till
today), created segregation through religion, moods, and civility.
How difficult is it to write “subaltern” history? Do you know of any attempts?
-very little info
(Cohn) How was the process of state building in Great Britain seen as a cultural project? How did this
It was seen as a cultural project because it was closely linked to the rise of Britain as an imperial power.
Since India was Britain’s largest colony a lot of the state building activities like documentation,
legitimisation and classification that were used in Britain were also used in India. In some cases practices
that worked in India were transported to England. For example the Indian civil service provided some of
the models for the development of the home services.
Why were the British interested in “knowing” India?
What were “investigate modalities”? How and why did the British employ them? Have you used any in
your study of South Asia (or anything else for that matter)?
-Investigative modalities were a way in which British saw facts and transferred them into
paperwork. The British believed they could explore this (India) space through translation. They used
these modalities to observe and gain a sort of mastery over unfamiliar surroundings.
There are 6 investigative Modalities.
This was the most complex, pervasive, and powerful. They began to investigate through what they
called “enquires”, which was a list of questions to which they sought answers about how revenue was
assessed and collected. Furthermore, it discovered the land settlement process, which provided a local
history for each area. The second strand involved the ideological construction of the nature of Indian
civilizations. The historiographic practices and narrative genres of the authors of historical writings were
subjected to analysis, but beyond this, they were seen to have begun the transforma