Book: A People's History of the United States
#1
I would like to start a discussion based on the book A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. I assume most of you have already read this book as this is standard fare among liberals. Anyway, for those who have not read the book it is about the history of the US from the days for Columbus to the present written not from the perspective of the victors but from that of the victims. Here is a quote from the first chapter of the book (available for free online) where Zinn gives a glimpse of what to expect from the book.

Quote:I prefer to try to tell the story of the discovery of America from the viewpoint of the Arawaks, of the Constitution from the standpoint of the slaves, of Andrew Jackson as seen by the Cherokees, of the Civil War as seen by the New York Irish, of the Mexican war as seen by the deserting soldiers of Scott's army, of the rise of industrialism as seen by the young women in the Lowell textile mills, of the Spanish-American war as seen by the Cubans, the conquest of the Philippines as seen by black soldiers on Luzon, the Gilded Age as seen by southern farmers, the First World War as seen by socialists, the Second World War as seen by pacifists, the New Deal as seen by blacks in Harlem, the postwar American empire as seen by peons in Latin America.

The book is not entirely a downer. It is not just a chronicle of the pain and suffering of various marginalized people it is also a tribute to the successes of the abolitionists, feminists, civil rights movement, and the anti-war movement. The book also challenges notions of patriotism and national pride.

Reading this book made me wonder what an analogous book about India would look like.

Any thoughts?

Who are the victims of India?

1) Dalits
2) Religious minorities
3) Kashmiri muslims
4) Women
5) Children
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#2
(08-Sep-2012, 11:18 AM)Captain Mandrake Wrote: I would like to start a discussion based on the book A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn.
....
Any thoughts?

Who are the victims of India?

1) Dalits
2) Religious minorities
3) Kashmiri muslims
4) Women
5) Children
....
....

6) Displacees / internal refugees
7) Unorganized sector
8) Tribals
9) Sexual minorities
....
....

The most grievous victimization is undergone by citizens who intersectionally feature in more than one category in lists like the above. Caste disparities in maternal health in India are a case in point. The unorganized sector is especially unfair to women workers.

A distinction is sometimes relevant between victimization by the State and victimization by Society, which may be perpetrated either aided by or in subversion of the constitutional promise of the State. An example of social prejudice which has little to do with any state sanction is the sort of prejudice left-handers were subject to even in urban India until surprisingly recently and an example of social prejudice and discriminatory statutory provisions mutually reinforcing each other, is in the treatment of LGBTQ folk.

Arundhati Roy is perhaps the most recognizable, and unsurprisingly most polarizing name that comes to mind as the closest the India media has to a people's historian and whether the addition of academic rigour to her timely and impassioned essays would assist or hinder their purpose of outreach and consciousness-raising, is debatable. P. Sainath, who seems to prefer to function by the journalist's rather than the journal contributor's credo, can be thought of as an expert in a sub-discipline of 'people's history' among the most relevant to India currently, namely, agrarian crises. Both have placed first-hand frontline reportage and a potent mix of advocacy and activism in the service of ongoing adult education in people's history as it were. 'Listening the Grasshoppers' , a collection of Roy's essays, and Sainath's "Everybody Loves a Good Drought" maybe treated as readings contemporary people's history. However, there is not a yet a magisterial, single-volume reference like Zinn's for the Indian context. India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha is comparable in size, more limited in its sweep, and written from a different more conventional chronicler's vantage.

Edit : 26/01/2014 Fixed some broken links
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#3
Regarding Kashmiri Muslims I would like to point out that they are both the oppressed and the oppressors. Their violence against the minority Kashmiri Pandits community and the subsequent Exodus of the pandits is well known.
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#4
Arun kumar,

I guess Kashmiris of all background are victims. Even the trigger happy jawans who kill innocent Kashmiris are victims in some sense. After all they were just following orders.

They are all victims of state nationalism.
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#5
The video archives of the Under-told Stories project available here are replete with case studies and field reports that will aid the writing of a people's history in the making. Many of the stories are about India. For instance, one of the most recent stories is about the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences founded by entrepreneur-philanthropist Achyuta Samanta.
A School for India's Tribal Children
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