Nita Kumar, born in Pratapgarh, India, in 1951. Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Reader at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.
Fellow (1 September 1999 – 30 June 2000)
My plan was to work on a book on the methodology of History and Anthropology in India by thinking anew of my four research topics to date and how best to draw the methodological lessons that they had to teach. As new research, I planned to look systematically through some recent writing that dealt with similar questions, to re-read some older work on the subject, and to use new sources as possible insights into my topic, such as music, films, and fiction. I kept to all my plans.
My book is divided into five thematic parts, tentatively titled Imagination, Pain, Anger, Love, and Humour. I consider these titles to be descriptive of analytical areas in South- Asian studies that have been relatively neglected and that particularly interest me. I use each to enter a different set of problems. In Imagination I try to show how the perceived world is understood through language(s), and one of the reasons for the prevalence of “tradition” in India is that Indian languages have been transmitted through the generations even as English becomes a lingua franca.. In Pain I speak of the unnoticed deprivation of certain classes at certain levels, such as through unsuccessful education. In Anger I discuss the difficulties of >accepting= certain problems, such as the inferiorization of women, even as one strives to merely study them with neutrality and even respect. In Loveand Humour I want to interpret the experiences of freedom, aestheticism, and passion for Indians in a modern and global era.