Spring 2014

Subaltern Studies: History from Below

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as ANTH-375  |  Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-375  |  History, as HIST-375


Nusrat S. Chowdhury (Section 01)
Dwaipayan Sen (Section 01)


(Offered as History 375 [AS], ANTH 375 and ASLC 375 [SA].)  This course explores the intervention made by the Subaltern Studies Collective in the discipline of history-writing, particularly in the context of South Asia.  Dissatisfied that previous histories of Indian nationalism were all in some sense “elitist,” this group of historians, anthropologists, and literary theorists sought to investigate how various marginalized communities--women, workers, peasants, adivasis--contributed in their own terms to the making of modern South Asia.  Their project thus engaged broader methodological questions and problems about how to write histories of the marginal.  Combining theoretical statements with selections from the 12-volume series as well as individual monographs, our readings and discussion will chart the overall trajectory of Subaltern Studies from in its initial moorings in the works of the Italian Marxian theorist Antonio Gramsci, to its later grounding in the critique of colonial discourse.  The objective is to understand how this school of history-writing transformed the understanding of modern South Asian history. Our discussion will engage with the critiques and debates generated in response to the project and the life of the analytical category, “subalternity,” outside South Asia.  One class meeting per week.

Spring semester.  Professors Sen and Chowdhury.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2018