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Event, Metaphor, Memory : Chauri Chaura
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Event, Metaphor, Memory : Chauri Chaura

by Shahid Amin
Edition: 24-Jul-2006
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Product Details:

Date Added: 2008-09-06
Search Category: Lawbooks
Jurisdiction: Indian

Overview:

Winner of the Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize 1997

An account of the momentous event in modern Indian history which made Mahatma Gandhi suspend the non-cooperation movement

On 4 February 1922, peasant volunteers who had enlisted in Gandhi's newly launched people's struggle against British rule turned violent and burned down a police station in ‘Chauri Chaura' killing twenty-three policemen. According to Shahid Amin, this dramatic occurrence simply had to be quickly forgotten as a stain upon the clean sheets of Gandhian non-violence. And so it was. ‘Chauri Chaura' was effectively blotted out of the grand narrative of Indian heroic nationalism, making a token appearance in ‘authoritative' textbooks.

In contrast with this, in Event, Metaphor, Memory Amin reveals the fascinating specificities that comprise the history of ‘Chauri Chaura'. By combining archival records with local memory to amplify voices of individual peasants, he analyses the way events and memories are given meanings and emphases, and how records are appropriated by different, sometimes conflicting, histories. The result is a book that breaks new ground in several areas of Indian historiography.

Reviews

‘‘ ‘A brilliant path-breaking book…has the engaging quality of first-rate fiction'''— Outlook ‘A delightfully presented tour de horizon of the microcosm of Chauri Chaura as well as, by analogy, the macrocosm of nationalist India '''— Biblio ‘A fascinating book'''— Free Press Journal ‘[Amin'''s] work shows that history need not necessarily be a barren, archive based exercise…[and that] history writing is a rich and alive enterprise'''— Telegraph ‘Among the many concerns of Amin'''s book, the modes and nuances of representation [are] central…[He] translates oral records in a way that gives us a sense of the rhythms and transitions of the original speech…[and] through the voices of his interviewees, brings the time to life…'''—Amit Chaudhuri, London Review of Books ‘Amin'''s book is one of the first attempts by a historian of India '''s freedom movement to break out of the standard conventions of historiography. It builds into its fast-paced narrative the categories of the people who made history, but who did so on the basis of a consciousness that can only be called ahistorical'''—Ashis Nandy ‘Shahid Amin'''s “Chauri Chaura” is a pioneering study of how a violent and politically transgressive episode is transformed by local memory. The flames, bullets, prison sentences, and executions that divided the villagers in the 1920s here bring them together as survivors, and heirs give their account to the historian. And it is a riveting story, one that makes us think anew about the creation of Indian nationalism and the historian'''s responsibility to his sources'''—Natalie Zemon Davis ‘The strength of Amin'''s endeavour lies in the fact that even by the more traditional parameters of historiography, his book remains instructive…he does it with style, returning history to an old narrative tradition'''— The India Magazine ‘One of the special strengths of this book is its writing, which combines a brisk and lucid prose with density of information that requires slow and careful reading…This beautiful and important book has many rewards to offer the patient reader'''— American Ethonologist ‘The book promises much; it delivers a great deal'''— Journal of the South Asian Studies ‘This book is a brilliant contribution and is bound to interest students of Indian history…'''— Asian Affairs ‘Works of this kind and quality in the history of modern India are rare…a remarkable book'''— Imperial and Commonwealth History ‘A complex, multilayered text, whose structure responds forcefully to recent historiographical debates…[the] multiplicity of methods is the single greatest contribution of this book'''— Chicago South Asia Newsletter

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