Telling Lives in India: Biography, Autobiography, and Life History

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Overview

"This book serves as a window into the rich and revealing lives and self-representations of the particular individuals who have produced the life histories. In so doing, it makes very important broader points about the use of life histories in social science research in general and in the study of South Asian social-cultural life in particular." —Sarah Lamb

Life histories have a wide, if not universal, appeal. But what does it mean to narrate the story of a life, whether one’s own or someone else’s, orally or in writing? Which lives are worth telling, and who is authorized to tell them? The essays in this volume consider these questions through close examination of a wide range of biographies, autobiographies, diaries, and oral stories from India. Their subjects range from literary authors to housewives, politicians to folk heroes, and include young and old, women and men, the illiterate and the learned.

Contributors are David Arnold, Stuart Blackburn, Sudipta Kaviraj, Barbara D. Metcalf, Kirin Narayan, Francesca Orsini, Jonathan P. Parry, Jean-Luc Racine, Josiane Racine, David Shulman, and Sylvia Vatuk.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book serves as a window into the rich and revealing lives and self-representations of the particular individuals who have produced the life histories. In so doing, it makes very important broader points about the use of life histories in social science research in general and in the study of South Asian social-cultural life in particular."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253217271
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

David Arnold is Professor of South Asian History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

Stuart Blackburn is Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Life Histories in India David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn

PART ONE: CONFRONTING MODERNITY
2. The Self and the Cell: Indian Prison Narratives as Life Histories David Arnold
3. The Reticent Autobiographer: Mahadevi Varma's Writings Francesca Orsini
4. The Invention of Private Life: A Reading of Sibnath Sastri's Autobiography Sudipta Kaviraj

PART TWO: TRANSLATING TRADITION
5. The Shaik Tells His Own Story: Instruction, Pleasure, and Blessing in Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya's Aap Biitii Barbara D. Metcalf
6. Hamara Daur-I Hayat: An Indian Muslim Woman Writes Her Life Sylvia Vatuk
7. Cowherd or King? The Sanskrit Biography of Ananda Ranga Pillai David Shulman
8. Life-History as Narrative Strategy: Prophecy, Song, and Truth-Telling in Tamil Tales and Legends Stuart Blackburn

PART THREE: SPOKEN LIVES
9. "Honor is Honor, After All:" Silence and Speech in the Life Stories of Women in Kangra, Northwest India Kirin Narayan
10. Beyond Silence: A Dalit Life History Josiane Racine and Jean-Luc Racine
11. The Marital History of "A Thumb-Impression Man" Jonathan P. Parry

Indiana University Press

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