NaliniâNatarajan he following essay reflects my engagement with South Asian area udies as an outsider to the field, for I am primarily a literary critic.1 I begin by ehasizing that area udies has made valuable grounded contributions to the knowledge about South Asia, even though the paradigm does have its limitations, which I discuss in the course of this essay. I argue that these limitations are somewhat mitigated by considering the transatlantic influences that have affected area udies. In area udiesâ attets to tackle a diant peninsula as an object of knowledge there is a persient ambivalence. On the one hand, the region is myified as unique, special, and âdifferent,â owing to its colex millennial atus, the consequent heterogeneity of its cultural forms, and the proliferation (of informal) or paucity (of formal) sources, allowing multiple readings of hiory. On the other hand, it is placed within paradigms that one may call âuniversalâ or âtransculturalâ: paradigms of the onward march of capital or eire, ancient and modern trade circuits, the eternal ruggle between cultures of accumulation and subsience, or the hiory of landownership and tenant exploitation. Within this major duality from the Weern perspective, South Asia as âdifferentâ and
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East – Duke University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2007
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