History speaks many languages

An interview with Sanjay Subramanyam

by Thomas Grillot & Anne-Julie Etter

published in La vie des Idees (27-01-2012).

 

History cannot be written as if nations had always been around, and as if men had not found countless ways to ignore their frontiers. Historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam invites his peers to make use of the riches that lie in the multilingual archives of humanity to reveal connections that were once relevant to huge areas of the world.

A polyglot and an historian, Sanjay Subrahmanyam has placed at the center of his research connections between sources and historiographies in different languages (Persian, Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Portuguese, English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Dutch). He gracefully submitted to a French and English interview, the Gallic part of which can be accessed on La Vie des Idées. Answers to the same questions turned out to be largely complementary. We invite our readers to read both interviews as a whole.

 

For the interview in English, please click here.

For the interview in French, please click here.

 

 

 

Interview of N. Karashima by P.Menon

In an interview, Japanese scholar Noboru Karashima speaks on his recent work, the state of historical research in universities and government institutes in India, and his deep concern over the uncertain future of the discipline of epigraphy in India.

By Parvathi Menon

Published in The Hindu 02/12/2010

It is now over 50 years since Noboru Karashima, now Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo, published his first study on the medieval economic history of South India – a small essay on land control in Allur and Isanamangalam villages in the Cauvery delta, based on a study of Chola inscriptions. With that he pioneered a methodological framework for studying inscriptions, and for interpreting the mass of information that this historical source contains. He is today a pre-eminent scholar on the medieval history of south India. He has also contributed significantly to a rich tradition of Japanese social science research on India, with his hallmark of careful empirical research. In this interview given to Parvathi Menon in Bangalore, the Japanese scholar speaks on his recent work, the state of historical research in universities and government institutes in India, and his deep concern over the uncertain future of the discipline of epigraphy in India.

To read the article from The Hindu click here.

Epigraphical Study of Tamil Villages

Recent publication by Noboru Karashima

A new article by Noboru Karashima  “Epigraphical Study of Ancient and Medieval Villages in the Tamil Country” was recently published in Review of Agrarian Studies, Volume 1, Number 2 (July-December, 2011).

Abstract: In­scrip­tions on stones or cop­per-plates, which occur in sub­stan­tial num­bers, are the basic source-ma­te­r­ial for the an­cient and me­dieval his­tory of India, as much of India lacks his­tory books com­piled in these pe­ri­ods. For pre-mod­ern vil­lage stud­ies as well, there­fore, we have to de­pend on in­scrip­tions.

In this paper I ex­plain how the re­mains of in­scrip­tions can be used for vil­lage stud­ies by re­fer­ring to my ex­am­i­na­tion of Tamil in­scrip­tions of the Chola pe­riod (10th to 13th cen­turies). Through their ex­am­i­na­tion I have at­tempted to clar­ify the changes that oc­curred in the land­hold­ing sys­tem in the mid­dle Chola pe­riod, and the great so­cial change and up­heaval that these rep­re­sented.

I also demon­strate the im­por­tance of sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis of in­scrip­tional data, of tech­niques that I in­tro­duced into this field of study. Many in­ter­est­ing and im­por­tant fea­tures of an­cient and me­dieval vil­lages can be known from in­scrip­tions, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion on vil­lage types, cul­ti­va­tion prac­tices, taxes on vil­lages, and the peo­ple who lived in the vil­lages.

 

The online version of the Review of Agrarian Studies is available for free at www.ras.org.in or www.reviewofagrarianstudies.org.