New books connected to South Asia research

South Asian Ways of Silk. A Patchwork of Biology, Manufacture, Culture and History is a new book written by 12 researchers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Denmark, published by BOOKBELL, Guwahati, Assam, India. The corresponding author has been Professor Ole Zethner from the Department of Entomology, University of Copenhagen, and International Integrated Management and Agroforestry, Denmark.
The book was presented at a conference at the Agriculture & Forestry University, Chitwan, Nepal, 15th –16th November 2015. The authors have compiled the existing scattered information on sericulture and silk in region, thus trying to fill up the gaps of the knowledge of what has happened and is happening in each of the South Asian countries. One main purpose of the book is to make it easier for silk loving people to collaborate with each other across borders of the region. The contributors are Rie Koustrup, Aminuzzaman Md. Saleh Reza, Dilip K. Subba, Dilip Barooah, Neera Barooah, Moe Moe Win, Sundar Tiwari, Yubak Dhoj, Ghulam Ali Bajwa, Rizwana Ali Bajwa, Daya Ahangama and Ole Zethner.
This book stands out in the huge literature on silk and sericulture due to its comprehensive popular descriptions. It is not only centered on biological and technical aspects, which is usually the case, but covers many aspects of the subject. It also targets a broader audience, such as students and laypersons. The book will give politicians and administrators a better background for deciding whether and how to support a new silk venture and should also open the eyes for producing other silks than mulberry silks. Read more.

Subjects, Citizens and Law. Colonial and independent India, edited by Professor Gunnel Cederlöf, Linnaeus University, Växjö; and Professor Sanjukta Das Gupta, Sapienza University of Rome. Routledge India 2017. This volume investigates how, where and when subjects and citizens come into being, assert themselves and exercise subjecthood or citizenship in the formation of modern India. It argues for the importance of understanding legal practice – how rights are performed in dispute and negotiation – from the parliament and courts to street corners and field sites. The essays in the book explore themes such as land law and rights, court procedure, freedom of speech, sex workers’ mobilisation, refugee status, adivasi people and non-state actors, and bring together studies from across north India, spanning from early colonial to contemporary times. Representing scholarship in history, anthropology and political science that draws on wide-ranging field and archival research, the volume will immensely benefit scholars, students and researchers of development, history, political science, sociology, anthropology, law and public policy. More information.

Structural Transformation and Agrarian Change in India, by Prof. Göran Djurfeldt, and PhD candidate Srilata Sircar, both at Lund University. Routledge Studies in Development Economics, 2016.
The landlord and his emaciated labourer are symbolic of Indian agriculture. However, this relationship has now changed as large landowners have fallen from their superior position. This volume explores how this emblematic pair becoming a thing of the past. The two researchers investigates whether family labour farms are gaining prominence as a consequence of the structural transformation of the economy. They work alongside Weberian methodology of ideal types and develop different types of family farms; among them family labour farms that rely mainly on family workers, contrasted with capitalist farms that depend on hired labour. Agriculture is shrinking as a part of the total GDP at the same time as agricultural labour is shrinking as part of the total labour force. This book successfully criticizes popular narratives about Indian agricultural development as well as simplistic evolutionist, Marxist or neoclassical prognoses. It is of great importance to those who study development economics, development studies and South Asian economics. Read more...
Göran Djurfeldt is Professor in Sociology and a veteran development researcher who has worked extensively on India and sub-Saharan Africa. Srilata Sircar is based at the Dept. of Human Geography, and will defend her PhD thesis on the issue of Social Transformation in Emerging Census Towns of West Bengal, India in early December 2016.

In Pankaj Sakhsaria’s thesis titled “Enculturing innovation: Indian engagements with nanotechnology” he tries to understand – as the title indicates- how the nano techno-scientific knowledge and practices are implicated within and influenced by the cultural, social and political systems and logics in which the laboratories and the scientists are located. Pankaj examines the interesting but complex relationship between society and technology and the thesis shows the importance of understanding this relationship in order to achieve innovation. The thesis is available here.

The peer reviewed Routledge journal Conflict, Security and Development publishes an interesting article by Uppsala University researcher Florian Krampe in its Volume NO. 16. The article is entitled “Empowering peace: service provision and state legitimacy in Nepal’s peace-building process”. In his presentation, Krampe has studied the relationship between service provision and state legitimacy to assess whether the provision of services like electricity to rural communities of war-torn countries through state actors contributes to the consolidation of the post-war political system. Florian Krampe is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Peace and Conflict Research and is also the Director for the university’s Forum for South Asia Studies. Read the full article


Så har jag hört – buddhistiska texter från de första femhundra åren (”Buddhist texts from the first 500 years”), translated directly from Sanskrit and Pali originals by Swedish Indologist and Linguist Rolf Jonsson. h: ström – Text & Kultur. book publishers, 2015. It is the first time in over a hundred years Buddhist source texts are published in Sweden. Last time was in 1908, Nathan Söderblom devoted one part of his book series “Främmande religionsurkunder i urval och översättning” to Indian religious texts. Later, in 1967 and 1976,  Rune E Johansson translated some of the most important Buddhist scriptures, but that is all.
Rolf Jonsson’s selection is aimed not only to researchers and specialists, but the lyrics also have a common interest. They include mythological texts, texts of what the Buddha taught and what he did not teach, a treatise on statecraft, a philosophical hymn, Buddha's assertion that nirvana is something real, and testimony from monks and nuns of the difficulties they encountered along the way of doctrine and how they overcame them. The final texts focus on the realization that the tradition will once again disappear from our world but that in future it will be revived by a new Buddha.
Previously, Rolf Jonsson has translated three texts from Tibetan language into Swedish, and in 2013 he published an excerpt from Mahabharata directly from Sanskrit into Swedish (read more about this). 

J.J. Robinson, former editor of the Maldives' only independent English news service, Minivan News, and an appreciated guest lecturer at a SASNET seminar on the Maldives in 2014 (more information), has recently published a new book entitled The Maldives – Islamic Republic, Tropical Autocracy.
The book pays attention to the Maldives as a country rather than as a luxury resort for tourists illustrating how the island nation has been a bellwether of change, good and bad, across much of the Islamic world. It does so by exploring how in 2008, Asia then longest-serving dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was brought down by Mohamed Nasheed, environmental activist, journalist, and politician, to hold the first democratic elections in the country. Nasheed thrust the Maldives into the spotlight as a symbol of the fight against climate change and the struggle for democracy and human rights in one of the world's strictest Islamic societies. However democracy brought turmoil, protests, violence and intense political polarization resulting in the ousted dictatorship to overthrow Nasheed's government in 2012, supported by Islamic radicals and mutinying security forces.
Robinson, who is also a Fulbright scholar and graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, thus illustrates the shameless use of Islam for political ends and a politically manipulated judiciary. More information about the book

Asian Encounters: Exploring Connected Histories, published by Oxford University press in 2014, is edited by Upinder Singh and Parul Pandya Dhar and examines centuries-old interactions between different regions of Asia. It covers a range of topics, including the migration of people and trade and the exchange of religious, literary, and aesthetic ideas and forms. It does so by taking connections between India and other parts of Asia, particularly China and Southeast Asia, as a point of departure.  This way the book provides insights in the study of cultural identities and symbolic representation and interpretational forms in a cross-cultural and global perspective, particularly by looking at problems related to processes where cultural identities and representations interact and are exchanged. The essays in the volume range from issues of war and diplomacy and trade to the circulation of carpets and the exchange of cultural ideas and forms. In doing so the book contributes to understandings of inter-Asian cultural encounters and opens up new ways of looking in the context of Asian dialogue, making the book interesting for both students and scholars of South Asian history. Full information about the book.

Communication and Colonialism in Eastern India: Bihar 1760s-1880s, published in 2012, is part of a series on Modern South Asian History by the Anthem publishing house that explores the multiple themes and methodological standpoints within South Asian History. The volume, written by Nitin Sinha, research fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (Centre for Modern Oriental Studies) in Berlin, Germany, focuses on the Indian state of Bihar between 1760s and 1880s and reveals the contradictory nature of the colonial state’s policies and discourses on communication.
The book particularly examines the relationship between trade, transport and mobility in India, illustrating the ways in which knowledge about roads and routes was collected through travels, tours, and surveys which allowed the state to regulate ‘undesirable’ forms of mobility. However the book reveals that the history of colonial communication is not just a story of displacement but also one of realignment. This way the book provides a nuanced account and important work for scholars of colonial South Asia and particularly for those in interested in Communication and Colonialism. Full information about the book

Routledge Handbook of Contemporary India, edited by Knut A. Jacobsen, Professor in History of Religions at Bergen University, Norway. Routledge 2015. The book consists of chapters by the foremost scholars dealing with India's current cultural and social transformation, particularly concentrating on the ways in which India emerged after the economic reforms and the new economic policies introduced in the 1980s and 1990s and its development in the early twenty-first century. The handbook is divided in five parts, including chapters on India's foundation, to sections on society, class, caste and gender as well as chapters on religion and society and cultural change. This all against the backdrop of India as one of the most diverse and pluralistic nations in the world in terms of languages, cultures, religions and social identities. Indians have for centuries exchanged ideas with other cultures globally and some traditions have been transformed in those transnational and trancultural encounters and become succesful innovations with extraordinary global popularity. India is an emerging global power in terms of economy but in spite of the country's economic growth over the previous decades some of the most serious problems of Indian society such as poverty, repression of women, inequality do not seem to go away. The work provides and extensive introductory account on this broad set of issues. For more information about the book and to order a copy see the Routledge website.

The Pakistan Paradox. Instability and Resilience. By Dr Christophe Jaffrelot, Research Director at CNRS and teaching South Asian politics and history at Sciences Po (Paris). Random House, June 2015. An excellent fresh political history of Pakistan that explains the resilience of the state and its people and how both persevere against the odds. Pakistan was born as the creation of elite Urdu-speaking Muslims who sought to govern a state that would maintain their dominance. After rallying non-Urdu speaking leaders around him, Jinnah imposed a unitary definition of the new nation state that obliterated linguistic diversity. This centralisation — ‘justified’ by the Indian threat — fostered centrifugal forces that resulted in Bengali secessionism in 1971 and Baloch, as well as Mohajir, separatisms today. Concentration of power in the hands of the establishment remained the norm, and while authoritarianism peaked under military rule, democracy failed to usher in reform, and the rule of law remained fragile at best under Zulfikar Bhutto and later Nawaz Sharif. While Jinnah and Ayub Khan regarded religion as a cultural marker, since their time theIslamists have gradually prevailed. They benefited from the support of General Zia, while others, including sectarian groups, cashed in on their struggle against the establishment to woo the disenfranchised. Today, Pakistan faces existential challenges ranging from ethnic strife to Islamism, two sources of instability which hark back to elite domination. 

Young Sikhs in a Global World: Negotiating Traditions, Identities and Authorities edited by Prof. Knut A. Jacobsen, University of Bergen, and Dr. Kristina Myrvold, Linnaeus University, Växjö. Ashgate, 2015. In attempting to carve out a place for themselves in local and global contexts, young Sikhs mobilize efforts to construct, choose, and emphasize different aspects of religious and cultural identification depending on their social setting and context. Young Sikhs in a Global World presents current research on young Sikhs with multicultural and transnational life-styles and considers how they interpret, shape and negotiate religious identities, traditions, and authority on an individual and collective level.
With a particular focus on the experiences of second generation Sikhs as they interact with various people in different social fields and cultural contexts, the book is constructed around three parts: 'family and home', 'public display and gender', and 'reflexivity and translations'. New scholarly voices and established academics present qualitative research and ethnographic fieldwork and analyse how young Sikhs try to solve social, intellectual and psychological tensions between the family and the expectations of the majority society, between Punjabi culture and religious values.
Includes articles by Jasjit Singh on Family and Home: Family values: the impact of family background on the religious lives of young British Sikhs; Meenakshi Thapan on Punjabi youth in northern Italy; Nicola Mooney on The impossible hybridity of hair: Kesh, gender and the third space; and  Doris R Jacobs on Marking the female Sikh body: reformulating and legitimating Sikh women’s turbaned identity on the World Wide Web.

Rabindranath Tagore: One Hundred Years of Global Reception. Edited volume by Martin Kämpchen, Imre Bangha and Uma Das Gupta. Orient Black Swan 2014. When Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his own English translation of Gitanjali (Song Offerings), he became the first non-European to do so, achieving immediate fame.Translations in other languages of this and other works followed. Reams were written on his writings, and his personality. As a world citizen, Tagore aimed at bringing the ‘East’ and the ‘West’ together for an inclusive humanism. His was assumed to be the Voice of India – indeed of Asia and the colonised world. The Nobel Prize gave him the authority to speak, and the intellectual elite of many countries listened. The editors of this excellent book asked Tagore experts worldwide to narrate how the Bengali author was received from 1913 until our time. Their thirty-five essays arranged by region or language group inform us about translations, the impact of Tagore’s visits, and his subsequent standing in the world of letters. The well-informed chapter on the response in Scandinavia is written by Dr. Mirja Juntunen (Miriya Malik), previously connected to the universities of Stockholm, Uppsala and Aarhus. More information

Visit of Subhas Chandra Bose to Poland in July 1933. New documents. New conclusions. By Marek Moron, Lecturer at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Published by Institute of Foreign Policy Studies (IFPS), Calcutta University, April 2015.  
The visit of Indian freedom fighter Subash Chandra Bose to Poland in 1933 has not been much known – yet the documents found in the archives show that he had defined ideas on how to shape the relations with Poland. These ideas were far  from sentimental rethorics on freedom fighting, common ideals  etc. But Poland of the 1930s was not ready to see independent India as its future partner. Based on the documents of the Embassy of Poland in Vienna, Consulate of Poland in Bombay as well as original letters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland and other central state institutions in Poland, all from the years 1933-1936, Moron has come to the conclusion that the purpose of Bose's visit to Poland was well defined but the ideas he had in mind about Indo-Polish relations could materialise only after almost four decades.
The IFPS is an autonomous research centre inaugurated in 2010, devised for the study of international relations, funded by the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India. The institute purports to create a pool of foreign policy specialists capable of offering advice on matters pertaining to India’s international relations. Marek Moron was Polish Consular General in Kolkata for four years in the 1990s. Read the full text document on Bose’s visit to Poland (as a pdf-file).

Hobson-Jobson: The Definitive Glossary of British India. Oxford World's Classics paperback edition 2015, updated edited version of Henry Yule’s and A.C. Burnell’s 1886 original ”Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive”. Edited by Kate TeltscherMore information.
Read an article about this fascinating anglo-indian dictionary by Rahul Verma on Words' Worth Language website. The article, posted 22 June 2015, is entitled ”How India changed the English language”, and is a story about how many Indian words have become part of everyday English (for example loot, nirvana, pyjamas, shampoo and shawl; bungalow, jungle, pundit and thug), and how this happened.
”Long before the British Raj – before the East India Company acquired its first territory in the Indian subcontinent in 1615 – South Asian words from languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam and Tamil had crept onto foreign tongues. The editor of its contemporary edition explains how many of the words pre-date British rule. “Ginger, pepper and indigo entered English via ancient routes: they reflect the early Greek and Roman trade with India and come through Greek and Latin into English,” says Kate Teltscher.
“Ginger comes from Malayalam in Kerala, travels through Greek and Latin into Old French and Old English, and then the word and plant become a global commodity. In the 15th Century, it’s introduced into the Caribbean and Africa and it grows, so the word, the plant and the spice spread across the world. As global trade expanded through European conquests of the East Indies, the flow of Indian words into English gathered momentum. Many came via Portuguese. “The Portuguese conquest of Goa dates back to the 16th Century, and mango, and curry, both come to us via Portuguese – mango began as ‘mangai’ in Malayalam and Tamil, entered Portuguese as ‘manga’ and then English with an ‘o’ ending.”
The Hobson-Jobson glossary describes an unusual journey for the word ‘chilli’, recorded as “the popular Anglo-Indian name of the pod of red pepper”. According to Yule and Burnell: “There is little doubt that the name was taken from Chile in South America, whence the plant was carried to the Indian archipelago and thence to India.” Read more in Rahul Verma’s article.

Borderlands. India’s Great Wall is a facinating story by New Delhi based journalist Kai Friese. Online publication, 24 March 2015.  India’s longest border is the 2,545 mile line that encircles Bangladesh. This one is being drawn right now, with steel and electric light. 
Travel along the border districts of the east and you will see it unfurling slowly through the simmering green farmlands of Bengal, turning the territory into a map at last. It is an improbable structure: a double fence, eight feet high, consisting of two parallel rows of black columns made of sturdy angle iron and topped with overhanging beams. The two rows of columns are draped in a tapestry of barbed wire, with spools of concertina wire sandwiched between them. This imposing national installation is still a work in progress. It has been under construction since 1989; 1700 miles have now been erected, at a cost of approximately $600 million. There have been many delays and cost overruns, but when it is complete it will render precisely 2042 miles of the invisible border an impenetrable barrier, a gigantic machine for processing bodies—designed, in the words of the DBM, to prevent “illegal immigration and other anti-national activities from across the border.” Read more...

Mapping BRICS Media. Routledge 2015. Edited by Kaarle Nordenstreng, Professor Emeritus of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Tampere, Finland, and Daya Kishan Thussu, Professor of International Communication at the University of Westminster in London. This is the first comprehensive and comparative study of the emerging media landscape in the world’s most dynamic markets. This pioneering collection focuses on one of the key topics in contemporary international relations – the emergence of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The volume brings together distinguished scholars from the BRICS nations to assess the effects of the exponential growth in media in some of the world’s fastest growing major economies and examine how the emergence will impact on global media and communication. Transnational in scope, the book focuses on significant and yet hitherto largely ignored developments in the globalization of media. By interrogating the relationship between the inter-BRICS media and media practices and perceptions, this volume provides an accessible and critical guide to the complex debates about the impact of the ‘rise of the rest’ on the media globe. Read more.

The Militant: Development of a Jihadi character in Pakistan, by Muhammad Amir Rana, Director,  Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) in Islamabad. This book mainly focuses on the development of the militant’s character in recent years. The phases of militant discourse have completely changed his personality. The militant of the 1990s and the militants in the making today have huge differences. The first generation of militants was adventurous, but the new militant has clarity of ideology and objectives. A lot of work has been done to understand militancy and terrorism, but very few attempts have been made to comprehend the characteristics of militants. This can provide better understanding of the phenomenon as a militant experiences all the challenges and consequences of transformation. More information.

Needham's Indian Network: The Search for a Home for the History of Science in India. Yoda Press 2015. By Dhruv Raina, Associate Professor of Philosophy of Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi. The essays appearing in this book attempt to create a space for the disciplinary history of science in India in the first few decades following the achievement of independence from colonial rule. The 1950s were marked by a number of efforts in nation building, in a variety of spheres, and in the present volume, Dhruv Raina looks at the role envisaged for the history of science, as it was ensconced within the science academies that played a fundamental role in the institutionalisation of science in independent India. In doing so, he effectively analyses the conditions of production of the disciplinary history of science in India. More information.
Dhruv Raina defended his PhD at the Dept. of Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg, in 1999. The thesis was entitled ”Nationalism, Institutional Science and the Politics of Knowledge: Ancient Indian Astronomy and Mathematics in the Landscape of French Enlightenment Historiography” (more information).  

EmpowerIng Tamil Women: Recovery in Post-Confllict Sri Lanka. The Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP) Brief 2015. Report by Dr. Martina Klimesova, Associate Fellow at ISDP; and Bimsara Premaratne, Assistant Manager for Programme Support and Coordination at the Initiative for Political and Conflict Transformation (Inpact), in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It has been more than five years since the Sri Lankan government’s military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a conflict which spanned over twenty-five years, ravaged the north-east of the island, and led to over 100,000 deaths. While billions of dollars have been invested since May 2009 in speedy physical infrastructure development projects, the previously LTTE-dominated conflict-affected districts of the north are in desperate need of socio-cultural reconstruction assistance directed towards community capacity development, particularly the empowerment of women-headed households. Go for the report.