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Historiography Seminar 9: Edward Said - Provincialising History?

SEMINAR NINE: Edward Said: Provincialising History? (after lectures on `Edward Said and the Idea of Orientalism’, and `Provincialising History: On Chinese Historiography’)

To `provincialise’ Western historiography would involve many historians standing and looking from elsewhere, from somewhere outside the central historical discourse of the West. It would be to make the societies that were formerly the object of Western historians’ study, their own Subject. Is this what Edward Said’s Orientalism paved the way for, in the 1970s? And whether the answer to that question if `yes’, or `no’, is it desirable for a Western historian to do this? Is it possible to stand outside your own historical circumstances in writing the history of `somewhere else’?



Chakrabarty, D., Provincialising Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton NJ, 2000), 3-11

Said, E., Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (London, 1978), esp. Intro, and chs. 1.i, 1.iii, 1.iv & 3.iv [DS32.S2] SLC photocopy

Background Seminar Reading:

Green, A., & Troup, K. (eds), The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in Twentieth-Century: History and Theory (Manchester, 1999), 277-87 (‘Postcolonialism’)

Iggers, G. G., A Global History of Modern Historiography (London, 2008), 281-290, 342-344

Prakash, G. et al, ‘AHR Forum’ (incl. G. Prakash, ‘Subaltern Studies as Postcolonial Criticism’, American Historical Review 99 (1994), 1475-90; F. E. Mallon, ‘The Promise and Dilemma of Subaltern Studies’, idem., 1491-1515; F. Cooper, ‘Conflict and Contention’, idem., 1516-45

Spivak, G. C., `Can the Subaltern Speak?’, in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (eds.), C. Nelson and L. Grossberg (Urbana IL, 1988), 271-313.

Stoler, A., Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault's History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things (Durham, NC, 1995)

Questions for Seminar Preparation (may also be used as essay titles):

  1. Is the opposition between ‘Self’ and ‘Other’ in Said's work a helpful model for historical analysis?
  2. Does Said overemphasise the power of colonial knowledge, as against military might, in maintaining colonial rule?
  3. Is there any point to a young historian reading Gayatri Sprivak’s notoriously difficult `Can the Subaltern Speak?’
  4. Is it possible to `provincialise’ the West in Western historical writing?

1. On `Orientalism’:

Ahmad, A., In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures (London, 1992)

Ashcroft, B., & Ahluwalia, P., Edward Said: The Paradox of Identity (London, 1999)

Bhaba, H., The Location of Culture (London, 1994)

Bove, P. A. (ed.), Edward Said and the Work of the Critic: Speaking Truth to Power (Durham NC, 2000)

Hart, W. D., Edward Said and the Religious Effects of Culture (Cambridge, 2000)

Heehs, P., ‘Shades of Orientalism: Paradoxes and Problems in Indian Historiography’, History & Theory 42 (2003), 169-95

Inden, R., Imagining India (Oxford, 1990)

Kennedy, V., Edward Said: A Critical Introduction (Oxford, 2000)

Macfie, A. L., Orientalism (London, 2002)

MacKenzie, J., Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester, 1995), esp. ch.1

Majeed, J., Ungoverned Imaginings: James Mill’s The History of British India and Orientalism (Oxford, 1992)

Moore-Gilbert, B., Postcolonial Theory: Contexts, Practices, Politics (London, 1997)

Said, E., ‘Orientalism Reconsidered’, in F. Barker et al (eds), Literature, Politics and Theory: Papers from the Essex Conference, 1976-84 (London, 1986), 210-29

Said, E., Out of Place: A Memoir (London, 2000)

Sardar, Z., Orientalism (Buckingham, 1999)

Sarkar, S., ‘Orientalism Revisited: Saidian Frameworks in the Writing of Modern Indian History’, Oxford Literary Review 16 (1994), 205-24

Sprinker, M. (ed.), Edward Said: A Critical Reader (Oxford, 1992)

Thomas, N., Colonialism's Culture: Anthropology, Travel and Government (Cambridge, 1994), esp. Intro & chs.1-2

Turner, B. S., Orientalism: Postmodernism and Globalism (London, 1994)

Williams, P. (ed.), Edward Said, 4 vols (London, 2001), esp. vol. 2

2. The Reception of Edward Said: Reviews of Orientalism:

Asad, T., ‘Review [of Said, Orientalism]’, English Historical Review 95 (1980), 648-49

Clifford, J., ‘Review [of Said, Orientalism]’, History & Theory 19 (1980), 204-23

Gellner, E., ‘Review [of Said, Orientalism]’, Times Literary Supplement (19 Feb 1993)

Lewis, B., ‘The Question of Orientalism [Review of Said, Orientalism]’, New York Review of Books 29:11 (24 June 1982) [& cf. E. Said, C. Grober & B. Lewis, ‘Orientalism: An Exchange’, New York Review of Books 29:13 (12 Aug 1982)

Mani, L., & Frankenberg, R., ‘The Challenge of Orientalism’, Economy and Society 14 (1985), 174-92

Parry, B., ‘Problems in Current Theories of Colonial Discourse’, Oxford Literary Review 9 (1987), 27-58

3. Provincialising Europe?

Burton, A., ‘Making a Spectacle of Empire: Indian Travellers in Fin-de-Siecle London’, History Workshop Journal 42 (1996), 127-46

Colley, L., Captives. Britain, Empire and the World (London, 2002)

Colley, L., The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh. A Woman in World History (London, 2007)

Dietze, C., `Forum: Provincializing Europe I: Towards a History on Equal Terms …’, History and Theory, 47 (2008), 69-84

Ghosh, A., `Of Fanás and Forecastles. The Indian Ocean and Some Lost Languages of the Age of Sail’, Economic and Political Weekly (21 June 2008)

Ghosh, A., Sea of Poppies (London, 2008)

Goody, J., Capitalism and Modernity. The Great Debate (Cambridge, 2004)

Mazlish, B., The New Global History (London, 2006)

Melman, B., Women's Orients: English Women and the Middle East, 1718-1918: Sexuality, Religion, Work (Basingstoke, 1983)

Turner, B. S., Orientalism, Postmodernism and Globalisation (London, 1994)

4. `Other’ Historiographies? Or, China at the Centre of Chinese Historical Thinking?

Huang, C. C., `The Defining Character of Chinese Historical Thinking’, History and Theory, 46:2 (2007), 180-88

Mutschler, F. H., `Sima Qian and His Western Colleagues: On Possible Categories of Description’, History and Theory, 46: 2 (2007), 194-200

Rusen, J., `Crossing Cultural Borders: How to Understand Historical Thinking in China and the West’, History and Theory, 46: 2 (2007), 189-93

Rüsen, J., (ed.) Western Historical Thinking: an Intercultural Debate ( New York, 2002)

Sima, Q., (Burton Watson, transl.) Records of the Historian: Chapters from the 'Shih Chi' of Ssu-Ma Ch'ien (New York & London, 1969)

Spence, J., The Reith Lectures, 2008, `Chinese Vistas’,

Wang, Q. E., `Is There a Chinese Mode of Historical Thinking? A Cross-Cultural Analysis’, History and Theory, 46: 2 (2007), 201-09

5. `Other’ Historiographies? Or, India at the Centre of Indian Historical Thinking?

Burton, A., Dwelling in the Archive. Women Writing House, Home, and History in Late Colonial India (Oxford, 2003)

Chatterjee, P., The Nation and its Fragments (Princeton NJ, 1994) , Ch. 4.

Eaton, R. M., Essays on Islam and Indian History (New Dehli, 2001), I: `Historiography: `Islam as World History’

Guha, R., Dominance without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India (Cambridge MASS, 1997), Ch. 3

Guha, R., An Indian Historiography of India: A Nineteenth-century Agenda and its Implications (Calcutta, 1988)

Lal, V., History of History. Politics and Scholarship in Modern India (New Dehli, 2003), Ch. 1.

Mantena, R., `The Question of History in Precolonial India’, History and Theory, 46: 3 (2007), 396-408.

Murphy, M., `History in the Sikh Past, History and Theory, 46:3 (2007), 345-365.

Rao, N. D. Shulman and S. Subrahmanyam, Textures of Time: Writing History in South India 1600-1800, (Paris, 2002)

Sarkar, S., `Orientalism Revisited. Saidian Frameworks in the Writing of Modern Indian History’, V. Chaturvedi (ed.), Mapping Subaltern Studies and the Post Colonial (London, 2000), 239-255

Sen, S. N., `Writings on the Mutiny’, in C. H. Philips, Historians of India, Pakistan and Ceylon (Oxford, 1961), 183-208

Thapar, R., `Some Reflections on Early Indian Historical Thinking’, Rusen, J. (ed.), Western Historical Thinking: an Intercultural Debate ( New York, 2002), 178-185

Iggers, G. & Wang, E., A Global History of Modern Historiography (London, 2008), 317-351, passim