Daniel Haines, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London
“European empires disintegrated during the twentieth century, leaving newly-formed postcolonial states in their wake. In this turbulent period, governments sought new political idioms to support their claims to legitimacy as modern states. In Sindh, a part of British India and (later) of Pakistan, the late colonial and early post-colonial states combined major attempts to control the natural environment with a serious engagement with representative politics in their bid for legitimacy. The construction of three barrage dams across the River Indus, along with a network of irrigation canals, enacted human control over nature as a political project; while the complicated relationship between bureaucracies and legislatures moved towards a democratic ideal after the First World War. Continue reading Book: Building the Empire, Building the Nation by Daniel Haines
Samira Sheikh, Forging a Region: Sultans, Traders, and Pilgrims in Gujarat 1200-1500, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2010, 265 p.
As a historian of Medieval India, Samira Sheikh publishes a slightly revised version of the Ph. D. she prepared at Oxford University some years ago. The book is most useful since it provides both a broad synthesis of the formative period of Gujarati identity, as well as a very comprehensive analysis of the interaction between the different strata which gave birth to the pre-modern state, namely the Sultanate. Moreover, the issues addressed by Sheikh obviously concern a large part of North India. For example, she gives valuable arguments regarding the processes of formation of groups like the Rajputs. Last but not the least, Sheikh is well aware of the most recent trends in the history of India, in other words the post-colonial studies, and she is thus able to provide a balanced understanding on how pre-modern Gujarat provided the essential features on which modern Gujarat was to be built.