V. 33: No. 5-6 May-June 2005 #384-385
Introduction, p. 1
"What's in a Name?: The Crisis of Botanical Identification and the Production of 'Economic Man'," Projit Bihar Mukharji, p. 3
"The Memsahib's 'madness'," Indrani Sen, p. 26
"Coolie Acts and the Acting Coolies," Nitin Varma, p. 49
"The Writer and the Text," Panchanan Bhoi, p. 73
"Obituary - Andre Gunder Frank," Utsa Patnaik, p. 93
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This issue of the Social Scientist focuses on colonia/contemporary Indian history. Projit Behari Mukarji examines the classification strategies of the colonial administration with the expanding boundary of colonialism and the problems posed by 'modernity'. These complexities created the need to confront and communicate with new environments and contexts and also to transfer knowledge acquired in one context to another. There was thus a need to 'standardise' and 'rationalise' an unfamiliar reality. In fact, till the end of the nineteenth century we find- botanists and government agencies admitting that they often supplied the wrong drugs. As Mukharji argues, this crisis resulted due to the growing 'extra-local' nature of the pharmaceutical industry.
Indrani Sen's contribution focuses on the white woman's mental illness over the second half of the nineteenth century in colonial India. She delineates the gendered theories on psychiatry which prevailed in the Victorian age and the turn of the century. She focuses on the subordinate social position of the white woman in the colony. Besides examining references to 'common' mental problems, the article also focuses on the lunatic asylums of British India. Here, she takes up the case histories of white women patients - generally of the lower social orders - who were 'confined'. Sen highlights the intricacies of both gender and class when it comes to the white woman's mental illness in colonial India.
Nitin Varma studies the indenture system in the Assam tea plantations. This system developed with the abolition of slavery and problems of labour supply to the colonial plantations. It saw the collusion between the capitalist and colonial interests to create a system that was similar to slavery. Going beyond the 'freedom/unfreedom' binary, the paper discusses the strategies of control that drew upon various 'stereotypes', 'discourses' and 'practices', which were both 'dynamic and contested'. It examines assertions related to the homogeneity of the 'capitalist class' and its collusive drives with the state, in the classic 'planter-raj' model. Varma argues that the concerns and interests between both did not necessarily always converge.
Finally, Panchanan Bhoi's contribution examines the
p. 2 Social Scientist
development of an art form associated with the making of palm leaf manuscripts in Orissa. Tracing its pre-colonial origins, the article locates the diversities related to the technique of production of the palm leaf manuscripts. It delineates the shifts and changes that this art form went through over the nineteenth century with the growth of print culture and the decline of patronage of the feudal sections. The world of the scribe artists is explored through oral testimonies, bringing to life fascinating details related to their diverse social and religious origins. Bhoi's paper tells us of an art form that struggles to survive under the pressure of globalisation.
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