This book consists of incisive and imaginative readings of culture, politics, and history – and their intersections – in eastern India from the 16th to the 20th century. Focusing especially on Assam, Odisha, Bengal, and their margins, the volume explores Indo-Islamic cultures of rule as located on the cusp of Mughal-cosmopolitan and regional–local formations.

Tracking sensibilities of time and history, senses of events and persons, and productions of the past and the present, the volume unravels intimate expressions of aesthetics and scandals, heroism and martyrdom, and voice and gender. It examines key questions of the interchanges between literary cultures and contending nationalisms, culture and cosmopolitanism, temporality and mythology, literature and literacy, history and modernity, and print culture and popular media.

The book offers grounded and connected accounts of a large, important region, usually studied in isolation. It will be of interest to scholars and students of history, literature, politics, sociology, cultural studies, and South Asian studies.

chapter |12 pages


Histories and sensibilities

part 13I|24 pages

History and historians

chapter 1|11 pages

Gautam, ever my friend

chapter 2|11 pages

Learning history, teaching history

part 37II|83 pages

Objects, metaphors, temporalities

chapter 3|21 pages

Cards and culture

Cultural cosmopolitanism in Mughal India 1

chapter 4|18 pages

Myths, metaphors, meanings

Kalapahar in Bengal and Orissa 1

chapter 5|21 pages

The surrender of Jagabandhu Bakshi

Kingship, insubordination, and the discrepant histories of the Paik Rebellion in Orissa, 1 1803–1825

chapter 6|21 pages

Olden times

Watches, watchmaking, and temporal culture in Calcutta, c. 1757–1857

part 121III|55 pages

Memory, politics, culture

chapter 7|19 pages

Martyrdom in revolutionary nationalism

Mourning, memory, and cultural politics

chapter 9|17 pages

Making of a radio programme

Birendra Krishna Bhadra and Mahila Majlish in the early Calcutta Radio Station, 1929–1938

part 177IV|82 pages

Literature, nation, modern

chapter 10|19 pages

Vernacular for the nation

Hemchandra Goswami’s Typical Selections from Assamese Literature 1

chapter 11|19 pages

Japan and Asian destiny

India’s intellectual journey through contemporary periodicals, 1880s–1930s

chapter 12|17 pages

Tracking the ephemeral

Elokeshi-Nabin-Mohanto episode and the history of print in Bengal