Pariah and Pundit: Postcolonial Philology and the Caste History of English Words

Can there be such a thing as postcolonial philology? I am prompted to pose this question by the impending workshop on Caste and Life Narratives at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. Given the centuries-long British colonial presence in India, and the even longer presence there of English, it is hardly surprising that words of Indian origin have found their way into the language. Interesting in this context are the translations the words have undergone—especially those words that remain marked in unacknowledged ways by the social history of India, including the history of caste (or, to use the term I prefer, of the varna-jati complex). I believe a postcolonial philology can provide novel insights into this social history. Read More…


Wednesday Aug. 10 2016, 3 PM–A Conversation with Prof. S. Shankar on Translating Literature and Myth in Cinema, The EFL University, Hyderabad, India (Conference Room, I Floor, EMMRC)

FORTHCOMING in 2017 from University of Hawai’i Press–my latest novel!

GST con

RECENTLY ADDED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON-DOWNTOWN WEBSITE–Videos of My Public Lecture and My Interview with Dr. Vida Robertson. From My Visit as 2016 CCRS Scholar-in-Residence.

JUST HEARD–Pennathur Ramakrishna of Madras Players writes that they are reviving my translation of Komal Swaminathan’s great Tamil play Thaneer, Thaneer (my translation of title–Water!) by “popular demand” (his words). The play is a brilliant exploration of drought, poverty and postcolonial disillusionment. If you are in Chennai, India, in November, try to go to a performance. Last time the performance was in historic Museum Theater in Egmore!

OTHER NEWS–I am co-editing a special issue of the journal Biography devoted to Caste and Life Narratives. My co-editor: Dr. Charu Gupta of University of Delhi. Tentative date of publication: Summer 2017.


The images above and at the bottom of the page relate to my forthcoming novel GHOST IN THE TAMARIND TREE


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