The plethora of commentaries and critiques on Indian political thought in the early seventies that saw a dismal disconnection between theoretical endeavours and philosophical traditions, was based on the fact that the latter seemed to play no role in the way social sciences and politics were practised in India and elsewhere.
Anchoring on Banaras—a site where not only cultural plurality permeates and colours its social fabric but where medical plurality also thrived within the context of East-West encounter—Indigenous and Western Medicine in Colonial India delineates varied shades of the social history of medicine reflecting on ‘the multiplicity and complexity of social interaction and encounter between indigenous and western medicine’ (p. XI) that still endures in Banaras.
Nile Green is an unusually gifted historian. He has been engaged, almost single-handedly, in a quiet revisionism in the social history of early modern India. His work has served to introduce fresh perspectives to our understanding of early modern epistemology, bringing in dimensions of corporeality and embodiment to processes of knowledge formation.
Subaltern Lives offers us much more than what it initially promises. It is not just a prospographical analysis of individual convicts, or about recuperating lives of marginal groups transported across vast spaces of Empire under conditions of extreme regulation and punishment, it is about methodology and the challenges of reading archives.