This book traces the changing long-term history of a vast Brahmaputra valley region by outlining nowforgotten relationships between its distinct languages, faiths, monastic traditions, and communities. War, changes in revenue regimes, and the growth of the plantation economies in the nineteenth century fragmented this landscape and strained these relationships. These processes particularly affected the households constituted by the wives of monastic males, female cultivators, and labour-servants. Colonial officials described monks as 'savages' and female-dependent communities as 'primitive tribes'. In the process, colonial and postcolonial historians, ethnologists and political scientists continued the erasure of erstwhile monastic relationships across the historic geographic order, and the obscuring of women's histories.
On a deeper philosophical level, the book explores the nature of history itself, through 'forgetting'. It shows how friendships and a cosmopolitan past were buried deep under a collective amnesia, and how women centric societies were suppressed to forge a new nation.
List of Figures;
List of Abbreviations;
Chapter 1. Monastic Governance, 'Geographicity', Gender;
Chapter 2. Eighteenth-century Shifts of Monastic Governments;
Chapter 3. Political Ecology and Reconstituted 'Hindu' Marriage;
Chapter 4. Translations of Adherence: From 'Feudalism' and 'Slavery' to 'Savagery'
Chapter 5. A Fraternity of Tea and the Monastic Politics of Friendship;
Chapter 6. Undoing Gender? Restoration of Motherhood and Memory;
Conclusion: Rule by Ethnography, Forgetting Monastic Histories and Households;
This volume will interest scholars, researchers, and students of Indian history, anthropology, and gender studies, especially those involved in studying the northeast India.
This book traces the changing, long-term history of the vast Brahmaputra valley region. Examining the political and economic order of Buddhist, Vaisnava, Saiva, Tantric, and Sufis in the northeast, this is a story of how a modern Indian nation forgot its cosmopolitan past and gave itself a new history by forgetting the large numbers of societies centred on women.
Associate Professor, Department of History, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.