T"'0 Men and Music: Nationalism and the Making ofan Indian Classical Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005; New Delhi: Perrnanent Black, 2006. Shortlisted for Hutch Crossword Book Award (India); shortlisted for the Lionel Trilling Award, Columbia University.
"Putting Global Intellectual History in its Place" in Global Intellectual Hislory. Eds. Moyn, Samuel and Sartori, Andrew. New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming December
"Savarkar (1883-1966), Sedition, and Surveillance: the rule of law in a colonial situation," in Social History. vol. 35, no. I, February 2010.
"Country First? Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) and the Writing of Essentials of Hindutva,'• Public Culture 22: l , February 2010.
"Music as the Sound of the Secular," Comparative Studies in Society and History, January 2008.
Review of "Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Westem India," by Vinayak Chaturvedi in Journal ofAnthropological Research. vol. 64, 2008.
Hindu Fzmdamentalism: An Intellectual History ofReligion, Politics and Modern India. Book mss, expected date Of completion: December 2013.
For the past six years [ have been working on an intellectual bioyaphy of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar ( 1883-1966), widely considered the author of Hindu fundamentalism. Savarkar is known to Indian historians as the chief ideologue of rightwing Hindu nationalism, an extremist nationalist placed under surveillance and incarcerated by the colonial government, and as the inspiring figure behind Gandhi's assassination by a member of the RSS, Nathuram Godse. If Gandhi is considered the father of the nation-family, Savarkar would be its ostracized, reviled, and hated black sheep, referred to on occasion by historians as "the principal philosopher of terrorism." Savarkar's influence on modern India has certainly rivaled Gandhi's, as evidenced in the rise and growth of the Bharatiya Janata Paly, the Hindu nationalist party, and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. The prominent role played in modem Indian political life by the ideology known as Hindutva is taken from Savat\ar's infamous extended essay and has become the core concept of what is known as "Hindu fundamentalism" however misleading the tern. For the very teasons that Savarkar sits awkwardly within Indian histoy as a stark and unpleasant contrast to Gandhi, to say the least, his life and career provides an opportunity to rethink the regional, national, imperial, and intemational circuits that require attention in order to write a new global intellectual history.
Savarkar has been written about by Indian historians, but without any attention to the vast archive of primary and secondary sources in Marathi. Savarkar, like Gandhi, was the subject of biographical works even as a young man. Savarkar fashioned himself, first and foremost, as a poet, and only secondarily as a patriotic nationalist. His poety, however. has not been the subject of academic inquiry. I have been translating selections from his poetic oevre with the help ofa Marathi specialist and in addition, have been studying Sanskrit. Locating Savarkar in ægional contexts has required working through the of several Marathi intellectuals, such as Rajwade, Shejwalkar, Shivram Mahadev Paranjpe, and Sahastrabuddhe, in large part because they provide what is central to any understanding of Savarkar and his fellow intellectuals, namely, how the 1 8dl century was viewed by them not as the century of Mughal decline and the rise of the East India Company. but of Maratha ascendancy and imperial ambition.
Most work on Savarkar so far has not taken into account the vast literature in Marathi that includes scholarly bioyaphies. adulatoty biographies, Sanskrit plays, Sanskrit kavya (courtly poety), powadas (bardic poems), Marathi plays, Hindi plays, Marathi musicals, children's comic books, illustrated books, to name a few. There is a specific regional reading public devoted to Savarkar and his continued memorialization. Within the Marathi lay and scholarly world of historical writing, the nexus between the biographical personal and the literary output is differently privileged: sometimes very close.
sometimes not at all. There is a varied reading practice as well, where Savarkar's social work, or caste politics is examined without reference to his political opinions. Such practices date to the period following Savarkar's retum to India in 1920 to be placed under house arrest, even as the process of memorialization continues to this day.
Although I am fluent in Marathi, i have been working with a Marathi insüuctor and have started learning scholarly Sanskrit, without which I am unable to translate or analyze Savarkar's complicated and hybridized poety. I am currently engaged in writing the first three chapters of the book, focusing primarily on Savarkar's early life.