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Title: Remembering the revolt of 1857 : contrapuntal formations in Indian literature and history
Author: Siddique, Soofia
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines the 'remembering' of the rebellion of 1857 in India through a constellation of texts, primarily though not exclusively literary, written in Urdu, Hindi and English. An essential concern of the thesis is the imbrication of literary forms, practices and histories with History 'proper' (located within a spectrum of Memory Studies drawing from Walter Benjamin). 1857 stands as a reflective space for the experiences of the rebellion as well as a moment of epistemic break insofar as it signals the consolidation of colonial modernity and its cultural transformations. The Saidian concept of contrapuntal criticism informs the thesis as it foregrounds various Indian texts spread over a century and a half, sometimes in distinct dialogue with imperial texts and strategies, and more generally with the historically constituted idea of Indian silence on the rebellion. The various configurations and matrices of silence, forgetting and speech form a continuous engagement. Chapter One studies an 1863 poetic anthology, arguing for the multivalent, often resistant politics within the conventional Urdu modality of lament. Chapter Two is a wide ranging analysis of texts from 1858 until 1888, focussing on the Enlightenment modality of 'reason' to probe the politics of 'causes of the revolt' narratives, the place of Syed Ahmad Khan therein, and the literary reflection of processes of minoritisation. Chapter 3 examines the multiple recastings of 1857 in the twentieth century nationalist phase. Beginning with V.D.Savarkar's 1909 book, The Indian War of Independence 1857, I focus on uneasy resolutions of Indian modernity particularly with reference to questions of violence and community. The final chapter engages with postcolonial writings that occupy a contrapuntal position in relation to dominant narratives of nationhood and modernity on the subcontinent, in which memory of 1857 gets configured as a point of crisis and of the surfacing of submerged narratives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral