The 2002 Nora And Edward Ryerson Lecture

Susanne Hoeber Rudolph and Lloyd I. Rudolph
“Engaging Subjective Knowledge: Narratives of and by the Self in the Amar Singh Diary”
May 23, 2002

As Lloyd and I imaginatively reconstructed the phone call from Don Randel the musicologist, we thought we heard him ask us to perform a duet. A duet, the OED tells us, is a musical composition for two voices or two performers. Hopefully, it will be a harmonious duet. Again resorting to the indispensable OED, we find that harmonious means “marked by agreement or concord . . . so as to produce an aesthetically pleasing effect.” We hope, of course, that these adjectives apply. We also found that duet implies a certain simultaneity. You will be relieved to know that the only thing simultaneous about this lecture is that we wrote it together.

I start by confessing to you that Lloyd and I have been living in a ménage à trois for the past thirty years. This arrangement has been suspected by our children and a few close friends. The third member of our household has been Amar Singh, the dashing cavalry officer you see on the cover of Reversing the Gaze. His presence often disrupted the household, compelling us to travel frequently to distant places, drawing down the family exchequer, and affecting our family culture by teaching our children to recite dohas, Marwari couplets whose performance captures the culture and identity of the Rajput order that ruled India’s ancient kingdoms—Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, and others. Amar Singh has been our constant companion for thirty years, ever since that breathtaking moment in 1971 when Mohan Singh Kanota ushered us into his father’s high-ceilinged room in Narain Niwas to show us the ninety foliosized, 800-page volumes bound in red leather of his uncle’s diary. Written in English and kept continuously for forty-four years—from September 1898 until November 1, 1942, the day Amar Singh died—it may be the world’s longest continuous diary.

Introducing Subjective Knowledge

The three decades spent selecting, editing, and interpreting Amar Singh’s diary have led us to reflect on the subjective knowledge Amar Singh’s narratives of and by himself make available. This evening we would like to share with you some of those reflections.

We start with a story familiar to anthropologists. A Cree hunter is asked by a Canadian court to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about his people’s way life. “I’m not sure I can tell the truth,” he says, “I can only tell what I know.”1

Amar Singh says something similar about his diary narratives. After completing the last entry for 1898—the year he converted his copybook into “the diary”—the nineteen-year-old student of Ram Nathji, tutor at the Jodhpur court of the young maharaja, Sardar Singh, turns the fledgling volume over to his much admired and respected teacher in the hope and expectation that Ram Nathji will comment on what he has written. Ram Nathji pencils mostly approving observations and comments throughout the diary’s pages but comes down hard on Amar Singh at the end of the last page for writing so much about the “butchery” of hunting boar, tigers, and birds but writing nothing about Jodhpur’s worst famine of the century. Amar Singh’s response to Ram Nathji is reminiscent of the Cree hunter’s response to the Canadian court’s injunction to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I ought to have written about the famine, but you must bear in mind that no opportunities were given me to study or watch it and consequently I could not write anything. . . . What I have written is of which I am an eye witness or have heard from very reliable sources.2

Amar Singh, like the Cree hunter, has taken a position on the epistemology of subjective knowledge; he tells what he knows about what he has experienced. Like the Cree hunter, his knowledge is situated and contextual; his voice is located in time, place, and circumstance. The epistemology of subjective knowledge stands in marked contrast with the epistemology of objective knowledge, i.e., knowledge based on a view from nowhere generated by unmarked and unencumbered observers.3

James Clifford glossed the Cree hunter’s concept of truth as “rigorous partiality.” Clifford reverses the conventional valuation of partial and impartial, treating partiality as the more desirable and impartiality as the less desirable state. Rigorous partiality recognizes and validates the situated, inflected nature of truth. Rather than denying or repressing the existential character of the sociology of knowledge, rigorous partiality self-consciously acknowledges that place, time, and circumstance shape why and how knowledge is acquired and what it is taken to mean. Clifford’s claim for rigorous partiality is consistent with Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutic stance in Truth and Method,4 that the scientific ideal of objectivity is compromised by personal experience, cultural tradition, and prior understandings.

Clifford’s second signification for partiality refers to that which is not whole, complete, or capable of being carried to completion. “Rigorous partiality” makes the epistemological claim that knowing the whole truth is a capacity not given to mortals. The best they can do is to strive for partial truths.

Working with the Amar Singh diary invited us to consider the relationship between a personal document written daily in the first person and subjective knowledge. We began to ask ourselves, What kind of knowledge can be found in a diary? and How does such knowledge differ from other forms of knowledge? We recognized that monopoly claims could be and were being made for objective knowledge, particularly objective knowledge based on stereotypical views of “science” and “scientific method.” Influential and powerful voices claimed that only science could ask and answer questions. If it wasn’t scientific it couldn’t be true. Early on we recognized that subjective knowledge posed a challenge to the monopolistic claims of science to objective knowledge. But we are not arguing in reply to such monopoly claims for objective knowledge that subjective knowledge is the only form of knowledge or even that it should be taken to be the best or a better form of knowledge. We think there is room at the roundtable of knowledge for the imaginative truths found in literature, myth, and memory; for the archival truths of history; for the spiritual truths found in religions and religious experience; and for the aesthetic truths of the visual and performing arts.

Resisting monopolistic claims about forms of knowledge and ways of knowing was not something that began with our work on the Amar Singh diary. Looking back, it began in the mid-1950s when we were working on our Ph.D.s at Harvard, mostly but by no means exclusively in its Department of Government. We encountered—perhaps sought out would be a better way of putting it—diverse forms of knowledge and ways of asking and answering questions. We learned about macrohistorical theory and political institutions from Carl Friedrich and Sam Beer, and came to be positivists of sorts working with V. O. Key, the doyen of statistical analysis of electoral and party behavior based on voting and survey data; Erik Erikson guided us into the realm of ego psychology and identity formation; David Riesman showed us what it meant to interpret American character and culture, and Louis Hartz how to analyze and explain American political development; Rupert Emerson supported our ventures into the first wave of postcolonial studies, the formation of new nations and new states; and, for a time, Talcott Parsons led us to believe that all would be revealed once we understood the mysteries of structural functionalism. From the beginning our work has drawn on diverse epistemes and methods, and years of teaching in the University of Chicago College only fortified the habit. We have been re-enforced in our tendency toward pluralism in forms of knowledge and ways of knowing by Max Weber’s embrace of it on the last page of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism:

It is not our aim to substitute for a one-sided materialistic an equally one-sided spiritualistic causal interpretation of culture and history. Each is equally possible, but each, if it does not serve as the preparation, but as the conclusion of an investigation, accomplishes equally little in the interest of historical truth.5

Images of Liminality

So how did we get here from there? How did we come to be giving the Ryerson Lecture in April 2002 about a diary and subjective knowledge? Lloyd will return to that question once I introduce the subject who provides narratives of and by the self in his diary. We have “read” Amar Singh not only through his words but also through his photographs, an experience we will try to repeat here. Most of these photographs can be found in the thirty-five photo albums that he composed and that reside in his ancestral haveli.

Figure 1. “A Rajput who reads will never ride a horse”? Amar Singh the cavalry officer reading a book. (Figures 1 through 7 are from Amar Singh’s Photo Albums.)

Two images display the kind of identity the young officer is constructing for himself: the first an image of the booted, turbaned reader we use on the cover of our book, Reversing the Gaze (figure 1). the second an image of Amar Singh shooting (figure 2). There are Indian elements such as the Jodhpur-style sapha or turban and the jodhpurs and English elements—the cavalry boots, the well-cut Norfolk jacket, the fine shirt and tie. He is what we think of as a liminal creature, a Rajput Edwardian gentleman who lives on the limes, the border between two forms of life, the English culture of British India and the Rajput culture of princely India

Figure 2: The diarist as Indo-Edwardian gentleman

We use the term liminality rather than a related term, hybridity, to characterize Amar Singh’s condition because, as we read liminality,6 it fits better with the ways Amar Singh assembles his identity. Liminal identities are constructed and changeable while hybrid identities are continuous and self-perpetuating. As we use the term, liminality invokes a temporary location on one side or another of a border that separates two forms of life, or in the culturally ambiguous no man’s land that lies between them. Hybridity unlike liminality invokes the durable and persisting condition of a created but self-perpetuating crossbreed. Liminality is a term that suits the end-ofthe-century imperial era, hybridity a term that suits the “postcolonial” thinking and practice characteristic of the end of the twentieth century.7

Amar captures his sense of living liminally, sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, of the border between two cultures, in a remark about what makes Indian and English food taste good. Indian food tastes better, he wrote, when it is eaten from a tali with the hand; English food tastes better when eaten from a plate with knives and forks. His dress in the two photos of him reading and shooting places him in the culturally ambiguous space between the English world of British India and the Rajput world of princely India.

At the turn of the century, when Amar Singh began to write his diary, liminality was suspect. A “black Englishman” was at best an anomaly, at worst an abomination. He had either assimilated imperfectly and was therefore a bad copy, or he had assimilated perfectly and was deracinated, an inauthentic self, a phony. It was a time when imperial narratives conflated culture and biology. Identity was essentialized; a Jat was a Jat; Jats were good cultivators. Kipling in “The Enlightenment of Padgett, M.P.” mocked the claims of English-educated Congress babus, deracinated, inauthentic men whose liminal condition contradicted their claim to speak for the people of India. When Dr. Aziz in Forster’s A Passage to India fails to insert the button needed to attach a starched collar to his shirt, he fails the test for passing as English.

But the world has changed. In today’s world of postcolonial discourse and practice hybridity is praised and celebrated. Salman Rushdie exemplifies a hybrid identity in what he writes as a novelist and how he lives as a person—in Bombay, Karachi, London, and New York.8

Despite the hazards of liminality, we find Amar Singh navigating its dangerous shoals with considerable ease and success. It is an old skill on the subcontinent. From at least Mughal times, reciprocal cultural adaptation and borrowing was commonly practiced. Rajput kings and courts adapted Mughal architecture, art, dress, and food. Mughal emperors learned from Rajput rulers. We see Amar Singh wearing jodhpurs, an anglicized version of Indian dress. The British adapt in the opposite direction: they wear khakis and live in bungalows.

Figure 3: A man of many worlds: Zorawar Singh constructs a self from Rajput, Mughal, French, Victorian, and ancient Greek accouterments.

In the next slide, Amar Singh’s grandfather enacts liminality (figure 3). Zorawar Singh is a ten-village thakur, minister in the government of Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur, and a leading member of his court. The genre of the image, a photographic portrait, tells us that the periphery, the down-country town of Jaipur, was emulating the latest practice at the center of the empire in London.9 From 1876, visiting rulers had photographic portraits prepared in anticipation of an audience with the Queen Empress, Victoria. Zorawar Singh’s dress reflects a variety of cultural adaptations: the epaulettes made fashionable by European regimental dress; the pearls at the throat and the silk sword scarf that emulate Mughal court dress; the angaarkhi, a local jacket featuring the cut-out at the neck; the recently acquired gold anklets marking his rise to the rank of tazimi sardar in the Jaipur court. He rests his hand on a cunning table bearing the literary accouterments of a Victorian gentleman—book, pen, inkwell; and poses in front of a de rigueur portraiture stage prop, in this case of the Parthenon, symbolic of British recognition of Greece as the cradle of Western civilization. Zorawar Singh’s liminality naturalizes why and how his grandson, Amar Singh, adopted a similar mode of identity formation.

Figure 4. Amar Singh reverses the gaze: the only turban at the Ormerod-Westcott wedding

Four more photos of his early years as an officer display the environment that enabled and limited his identity choices. We see him at the Ormerod-Westcott wedding (figure 4). The photo is one of many in which he is the only Indian sapha in a sea of English garden hats and straw boaters. (If you zero in on the clergyman in black on the far right-hand side, you can spot his dark face and white sapha just behind the pastor.) On army duty as a staff officer, we see him sorted with the English officers rather than the Indian subalterns (figure 5). We watch him striding toward his very English bungalow in the Mhow army cantonment (figure 6), and we observe the Edwardian drawing room with which he surrounds himself, complete with objets d’art, paintings, and elegant furniture (figure 7).

Figure 5. Lt. Amar Singh stands on the English side of the line.

Figure 6. Striding toward his English bungalow at Mhow cantonment

Figure 7. Amar Singh’s Victorian drawing room at Mhow

Self-as-Other Ethnography

Now that Susanne has introduced you to Amar Singh the diarist, I want to make a case for how his narratives of and by the self can be said to constitute a form of subjective knowledge. My story of the diary as a form of subjective knowledge begins and, in a sense, ends with the thoughts of the late M. N. Srinivas, an Indian anthropologist of world repute. In texts written just before his unexpected death in Bangalore in November 1999, he provided warrants for the approach we take in this lecture. The passages make clear that by the late 1990s he had gone beyond explanations based on social structure and social function that characterized his major works to an appreciation of the importance of subjective knowledge and human agency in the making and shaping of culture:

Every life mirrors to some extent the culture and the changes it undergoes. The life of every individual can be regarded as a “case study,” and who is better qualified than the individual himself to study [it]. . . . Anthropology started as the study of “the other,” an exotic other. . . . [T]he culmination of the movement from the study of the other to studying of one’s own culture is surely the study of one’s own life? The latter can be looked at as a field, with the anthropologist being both the observer and the observed, ending for once the duality which inheres in all traditional fieldwork.10

As Susanne and I read and reread the Amar Singh diary, it gradually dawned on us that his narratives of and by the self provided an account not only of a self in formation, the making of identity, but also an ethnography, a cultural account of a way of life. We combined the two by thinking of the diary’s narratives as a self-constructing culture, what we subsequently came to think of as “self-as-other ethnography.”

The claim that Amar Singh was an ethnographer of whatever stripe runs counter to what anthropologists claimed they did from the time when, at the beginning of World War I, Bronislaw Malinowski invented anthropology as a “science” based on “field work” and participant-observer methodology. In the beginning there was the self and the other. European anthropologists initially went to study the alien, exotic, and distant “other” in colonial places such as the Trobriand Islands or an Indian village, places where the natives could be observed enacting their culture, fulfilling cultural “obligations,” behaving in culturally appropriate ways. Anthropologists from the metropole formulated a culture for the natives and told the Western world and the natives about it in their scholarly monographs.

Figure 8. The chief and the anthropologist. Whose gaze? (Photo: Hutchison Picture Library, Londan)

Another of James Clifford’s stories captures the process of defining the natives’ culture for them. The story is about a graduate student ethnographer and an African chief. To put you in the proper frame of mind and illustrate the ambiguity of the relationship, I am showing you the cover of the Times Literary Supplement that featured Tanya Luhrmann’s review of books about and by Clifford Geertz (figure 8). (As we look at this photo, we can wonder about who is mastering whose culture.) The story goes like this: A graduate student of African ethnohistory prepares for his fieldwork in Gabon among the Mpongwe by consulting an early twentieth-century work of a pioneering ethnographer, RapondaWalker. When he reaches the field, the student’s interview with a Mpongwe chief proceeds well until the chief has trouble with a particular word. “ ‘Just a moment,’ he says cheerfully, and disappears into his house to return with a copy of RapondaWalker’s compendium. For the rest of the interview the book lies open on his lap.”11

The “us” in the early days of ethnography were “Europeans” from imperial metropoles, the “them,” natives living under colonial domination in what were deemed cultural isolates, denizens of remote islands, villagers living behind mud walls, tribals hidden away in the bush. Natives were objects to be studied, subjects of alien rulers, peoples that administrators had to control and civilize—the white man’s burden in Kipling’s unintendedly ironic phrase.

So how did we get from “self and other” to “self as other”? How did the natives lose culture and gain voice? The transformation did not occur recently or overnight. An important move in the direction of “self as other” took place when Srinivas’s friend and younger colleague, Triloki Nath Madan, like Srinivas an Indian ethnographer of India, wrote “On Living Intimately with Strangers.”12 Madan is one of the earliest reflexive “others” among Indian anthropologists. He makes no special claim in the name of “authenticity.” At the same time he sees himself as an anomaly when he remarks that “social anthropology took a very long time to realize the potential of studying one’s own society.” He cites two of Bronislaw Malinowski’s students—Jomo Kenyatta, “an African tribal chief,” and Fei Hsiao-Tung, “a Chinese Mandarin,” whose studies were published in 1938 and 1939— as earlier examples of reflexive “natives” writing their own ethnography. He cites Malinowski’s observation that writing anthropologies “of one’s own people . . . [is] the most arduous, but also the most valuable achievement of a field worker,” from Malinowski’s foreword to Fei’s Peasant Life in China. Madan argued that an anthropologist can go home again if he can “render the familiar unfamiliar.” Madan went home again to study his own Kashmiri Pandit community. He recognized that “detachment” distinguished his way of studying his own community from the “empathy” called for by participant observation of an “other.” What he did, he said, was closer to “objective subjectivity” than it was to the “subjective objectivity” of participant-observer ethnography.13 Studying his culture in his own country and, more decisively his own community, led him in time to the view that anthropologists should “not divide humankind into ‘ourselves’ and ‘others.’ ”

The “other” of participant-observer anthropology is not, it seems, barred from self-understanding, the capacity, in Srinivas’s words, of making himself or herself “a case study,” if he or she can render the familiar unfamiliar. “Critical selfawareness,” Madan says, is available to ethnographers who can access “distance,” a “sense of surprise,” and “anthropological doubt.” This kind of selfconsciousness and reflexivity can, according to Srinivas, remove the epistemological divide between self and other and open the way to ending “the duality which inheres in all traditional fieldwork.”14

Amar Singh’s self-as-other ethnography helps him to avoid some of the obfuscating mediations associated with self-and-other ethnography, the subjectivity and the projections that affect observation and knowing; the fortuitous or calculated resistance and/or compliance of the native subject; the objectivist fictions of scientific narration and authorial rhetoric. Clifford Geertz tells us how anthropologists try to persuade us to believe them despite such difficulties:

The ability of anthropologists to get us to take what they say seriously, has less to do with either a factual look or an air of conceptual elegance than it has to do with their capacity to convince us that what they say is a result of having actually penetrated (or, if you prefer, been penetrated by) another form of life, of having one way or another, truly ‘been there’. . . . Persuading us that his offstage miracle has occurred . . . is where the writing comes in.”15

The erosion of the self-and-other trope began after World War II, when decolonization abroad and the rise of minorities at home started to erase the line between them and us. Renato Rosaldo captured what was happening when he wrote, “The more power one has, the less culture one enjoys, and the more culture one has, the less power one wields.”16 “Culture” is what natives and minorities had and what anthropologists studied. Power is what the people of the metropole had; novelists, not anthropologists, wrote about their lives. But the situation changed. Abroad, the natives became citizens of sovereign nation-states, and at home voting and civil rights made citizens of minorities. When, at independence in 1947, Indians gained sovereignty, they lost “culture.” Since independence, we have learned more about life in India from the pens of novelists—R. K. Narayan, Salman Rushdie, and Arundhati Roy—than from the field notes of anthropologists. “Wasps” gained culture as they loss power; Digby Baltzell’s sociology of Philadelphia’s fading elite replaced Edith Wharton’s novels about New York high society.17 Having written eight volumes of “subaltern studies” about the powerless, Indian intellectuals were brought up short in the 1980s with the realization that they were speaking for the powerless and asked, “Can the subaltern speak?”

In some ways, it was a strange question to ask. The answer was “Yes, the subaltern can speak.” Natives and minorities began to do so in the name of authenticity. They went further. They claimed that they and only they could represent themselves. French ethnographers looking at Madagascar, MIT economists observing Pakistan, white men from NORC observing the black ghetto could not speak for them. As our daughter Amelia learned as a student in the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, authenticity makes an epistemological claim. When she set out to study a witch sect in California, the witches told her that you have to be a witch to study witches.18 Authenticity became a claim to intellectual property. Trespassers were warned to keep out. Was the warning legitimate? Who and what is authentic? Does authenticity reside in the qualities of the text or object or in the identity of the producer? Does a Navajo blanket have to be made by a Navajo? Does a sociology of Jat-Sikhs of the Punjab have to be written by a Jat-Sikh of the Punjab? Alison Lurie in Imaginary Friends19 satirized authenticity by narrating how two sociologists from a fictionalized Cornell studied a community of persons in upstate New York who believed in the existence and presence of extraterrestrial beings. One of them finds that he can’t understand and represent his subject’s beliefs without himself becoming a believer. Authenticity in this reading requires that self be or become the other.

Paradoxically, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who presides over an enterprise that sometimes trades on authenticity claims, the Harvard Department of Afro-American Studies, has mounted a serious challenge to essentialist versions of authenticity. In his essay, “Authenticity, or the Lesson of Little Tree,” he tells the story of the initially much celebrated book, The Education of Little Tree.20 Its author, Forrest Carter, wrote the book in the first person, as if he were a Cherokee. Initially, Carter was praised for providing a brilliant, deeply moving account of Cherokee life. The autobiography was said by a critic uniquely to capture the meaning of the native American experience. Soon after his triumphant reception as an authentic Cherokee voice, Forrest Carter was unmasked. The author was not an authentic Cherokee. He was a “Ku Klux Klan terrorist and homegrown American fascist,” an imposter with a criminal record. “Like it or not,” Gates tells us, “all writers are ‘cultural impersonators’.”21

Gates challenges authenticity’s epistemological and ontological claim that only a “native” can know a native, that it takes a “native” or African American to know and to tell about a native or African American. He praises slave novels pseudonymously written by whites in the voice of slaves and novels pseudonymously written by whites in the voice of blacks.

Before we follow Gates and throw out the baby of subjective knowledge with the bath water of authenticity, let us consider a story from Amar Singh’s diary. The story raises questions about the claim that authenticity is independent of the speaker. Is an imperial ruler capable of speaking for a colonial subject and if he is, will he do so? Amar Singh’s diary provides a partial truth answer to this question.

Amar Singh’s entry for October 15, 1915, written on the Western front, includes an essay entitled “The Importance of Keeping Records.” He is concerned that, in the absence of “eye witness” accounts, the story of Indian soldier’s contribution to the allies’ victory in World War I might be lost from view. That contribution was considerable. The war began for England on August 4, 1914. By late September an Indian expeditionary force was at the front in Flanders, where British forces were falling back. The German army’s Schliefen plan to encircle Paris by invading through Belgium and penetrating to the Marne was moving toward success. Without the arrival of an Indian Corps of two-plus divisions and their valiant and determined resistance, the German offensive might very well have succeeded.

Amar Singh feared that the story of the Indian soldiers’ contribution to fighting and winning World War I would fall victim to India’s colonial relationship to Britain. He writes, “To my mind it is a thing of the greatest importance to keep a nation’s records. In this we are backward. . . . [W]e ought to have brought our own charans, who are our hereditary [bards]. . . . What we want is a man of learning and imagination who could and would write from personal experience. . . . The English historians will simply treat . . . the war in a very general way. . . . [W]hat we can expect is a mere mention.” And so it proved to be. Amar Singh’s diary entry seems to resuscitate claims that being a witch provides a special vantage point for knowledge about witches and that power enhances the witch’s ability to speak and to be heard.

Let me conclude by returning to the theory and practice of “self-as-other” ethnography. In recent decades, the dichotomies self and other, participant and observer, the ethnographer and the native, even subjectivity and objectivity have eroded. They have given way to first-person fieldwork accounts of the theater of the other. In “polyphonic,” “dialogic” textual production, both the ethnographer and the subjects of his/her ethnography are on stage in a reconstituted theater of the other. They engage each other, sharing the conversation built into the script. But they do not share the production of the script’s text. Despite the appearance on stage of reciprocity and mutual determination, the writing of the play, however literary and “partial” it may be, remains the task of the ethnographer, the self of the self-other duality. Politically he or she retains authority over the text about the other. But Amar Singh, a reflexive other writing in his diary about culture in the making as well as the doing, is located outside of a participantobserver relationship. By conflating self and other he constitutes himself, in M. N. Srinivas words, as a “case study.” He is, as Srinivas said, “both the observer and the observed,” a condition that ends “the duality which inheres in all traditional field work.” Amar Singh creates subjective knowledge by being participant, observer, informant, narrator, and author rolled into one. Amar Singh sets the stage, writes the play, and speaks its lines. It is his script and his performance.


  1. James Clifford, “Introduction: Partial Truths,” in James Clifford and George Marcus, eds., Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), p. 8.
  2. Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, Lloyd I. Rudolph, with Mohan Singh Kanota, Reversing the Gaze: Amar Singh’s Diary, A Colonial Subject’s Narrative of Imperial India (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2002), p. 55.
  3. See for example Deirdre McCloskey, who discounts the objective truth claims of social scientists because they mistakenly assume a disinterested and omniscient observer or clothe themselves in the authority of the gnomic present’s General Truth. See If You’re So Smart (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), p. 61.
  4. Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, trans. J. Weinsheimer and D. G. Marshall, second revised edition (New York: Seabury Press, 1989).
  5. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Scribner, 1958, 1976), p. 183.
  6. Liminality has more than one meaning. One variant can be found in narratives of rites of passage such as Victor Turner’s usage in The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967). As the text makes clear, Turner’s is not the variant of liminality we have in mind.
  7. For more on hybridity see Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 1994).
  8. Mira Nair’s films Mississippi Masala and Monsoon Wedding, like Rushdie’s novels, depict a version of Indian hybridity.
  9. Russell Harris The Lafayette Studio (New Delhi: Roli Johnson, 2001).
  10. M. N. Srinivas, “Indian Anthropologists and the Study of Indian Culture,” Economic and Political Weekly (March 16, 1996): 657
  11. James Clifford, “On Ethnographic Allegory,” in James Clifford and George Marcus, eds., Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1986), p. 116.
  12. In André Beteille and T. N. Madan, eds., Encounter and Experience: Personal Accounts of Fieldwork (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1975), pp. 131–156.
  13. “Subjective objectivity” is reminiscent of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s view in Truth and Method and of Michael Polanyi’s in Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958, 1962).
  14. T. N. Madan, “On Critical Self-Awareness,” in Pathways: Approaches to the Study of Society in India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 159–160. These themes are developed in Madan’s critical appraisals of the work of Claude Levi-Strauss and Louis Dumont.
  15. Clifford Geertz, Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1988), pp. 4–5. “It is clear,” he says, “that in . . . [Foucauldian] terms anthropology is pretty much entirely on the side of ‘literary’ discourses rather than ‘scientific’ ones. . . . Ethnographies tend to look at least as much like romances as they do like lab reports.” p. 8.
  16. Renato Rosaldo, “Culture Visibility and Invisibility,” in his Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989), pp. 198–204.
  17. Our readers are more likely to be familiar with the novels of Edith Wharton than with the sociological works of E. Digby Baltzell. The appearance of his Philadelphia Gentlemen: The Making of a National Upper Class (Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1958) made a case inter alia for “The Rise and Fall of Anglo-Saxon–Protestant Rule in America.” Baltzell had been preceded in writing about the culture of fading WASPs by Lloyd Warner in his “Yankee City Series” about Newburyport, Massachusetts, and by Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd’s “Middletown” books about Muncie, Indiana.
  18. Tanya Luhrmann reported a similar experience in her Social Science Dean’s lecture (2002) about the writing of Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft.
  19. Alison Lurie, Imaginary Friends, New York: Coward-McCann, 1967.
  20. Forrest Carter, The Education of Little Tree (New York: Delacorte Press/E. Friede), 1976.
  21. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “ ‘Authenticity,’ or the Lessons of Little Tree,” New York Times Book Review (November 24, 1991). Julian Barnes mounts an extreme challenge to authenticity in his novel England, England. If you look deep enough and far back enough, Barnes argues, you will find replication in some form or other.

About the Lecturers

Susanne Hoeber Rudolph is the William Benton Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Political Science and the College.

She completed her undergraduate degree at Sarah Lawrence College and received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1955. Since joining the University of Chicago faculty in 1964, she has served as Director of the South Asia Language and Area Center, as Master of the Social Sciences Collegiate Division, and twice as Chair of the Department of Political Science. She is currently Director of the Center for International Studies.

Her teaching and research concentrate on comparative politics, particularly the political economy and sociology of South Asia, Max Weber’s social science, and the politics of category and identity formation. She is the author of Transnational Religion and In Pursuit of Lakshmi: The Political Economy of the Indian State, among others.

Recipient of the University’s Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1973, Susanne Hoeber Rudolph was recently nominated president-elect of the American Political Science Association.

Lloyd I. Rudolph is Professor in the Department of Political Science and the College.

He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, completing his Ph.D. in 1956. Since joining the University faculty in 1964, his research and teaching have focused on institutional political economy, narratives and metaphors of state formation, South Asian comparative politics, and Gandhian thought and practice. His publications include The Modernity of Tradition: Political Development in India and Education and Politics in India: Studies in Organization, Society, and Policy.

He has served as Chairman of the Committee on International Relations and of the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences. He is now Chairman of the South Asian Studies and the International Studies concentrations in the College. In 1999, he received the University’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching.

The Rudolphs collaborated with Mohan Singh Kanota, the nephew and heir of Amar Singh, on Reversing the Gaze: Amar Singh’s Diary, A Colonial Subject’s Narrative of Imperial India (Westview Press, 2002).