Stitches on Time

Colonial Textures and Postcolonial Tangles

Stitches on Time

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 5 illus., 3 tables Published: March 2004

Author: Saurabh Dube

Asian Studies > South Asia, History > World History, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Destined to become a key work of subaltern studies and a crucial intervention in postcolonial scholarship, Stitches on Time probes the relationships between empire and modernity, nation and history, the colonial and the postcolonial, and power and difference. Saurabh Dube combines history and anthropology to provide critical understandings of the theory and practice of historical ethnography and contemporary historiography. Drawing on extensive archival research and innovative fieldwork as well as political economy and social theory—including considerations of gender—he unpacks the implications of specific Indian pasts from the middle of the nineteenth century through the end of the twentieth century.

Dube provides incisive accounts of the interactions between North American evangelical missionaries and Christian converts of central India, and between colonial legal systems and Indian popular laws. He reflects on the difficulties of history writing by considering the production and reception of recent Hindu nationalist histories. Assessing the work of the South Asian Subaltern Studies Collective, he offers substantial critical readings of major writings by Ranajit Guha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Partha Chatterjee, and others. Dube develops the concept and practice of a “history without warranty” as a means of rigorously rethinking categories such as modernity, colonialism, the West, the postcolonial, and the nation.


Stitches on Time is an important entry in the field of Subaltern Studies, and Dube’s work suggests important ways in which scholars can expand the archives and reshape arcane theoretical discussions by placing them in the context of new historical research. The extraordinary mixture of primary research and theoretical depth contained within [the book] will appeal both to an academic audience already versed in the theoretical conversation as well as to readers drawn to a more traditional detailed narrative.” — Carolyn Goffman , H-Net Reviews

Stitches on Time is an insightful work that combines sociology, history, anthropology, and postcolonial studies to present a nuanced analysis of the challenges confronting our contemporary understandings of empire and modernity, power and difference, and nation and history.” — Zine Magubane , American Journal of Sociology

“By exploring the relationship between colonial modernity and post-colonial interpretation, Dube unpicks these epistemological tangles and interrogates thiese deeply woven cultural knots with a very sharp needle. As a result, the book is an engaging and refreshing unraveling of these threads in ways that will ignite interest for those new to post-colonial studies, as well as provide new sign-posts for those already familiar with the field but wanting to stretch the paradigm beyond orthodox interpretations of cultural dominance.” — Adrian Carton , Social History

“Saurabh Dube’s new monograph develops the notion of ‘history without warranty’ to revitalize the subaltern studies project. . . . — Daniel J. Rycroft , Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“Tacking between history, anthropology and interpretive rumination, Stitches on Time makes a strong case for modernity as a contested zone of power and negotiation, of conversion and subversion.” — Anand Pandian , Pacific Affairs

“This book is a valuable addition to the large corpus of theoretical tracts on postcolonial studies.” — Debjani Ganguly , New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies

"Stitches on Time is a crucial scholarly and political contribution in the fields of anthropology, history, and postcolonial/subaltern studies." — Goldie Osuri , Anthropological Forum

"[A]n important intervention into the subalternist tradition, offering an instructive example of how to know history critically: its full knowing is neither possible nor even a laudable political ambition; its events large and small are always susceptible to faulty hermeneutics and misappropriations." — Grant Farred, Interventions

"[T]hought-provoking. . . . [A] valuable contribution to debates within history, anthropology, and postcolonial studies." — Ajay Skaria , Journal of Asian Studies

“Modernity has defined itself against enchantment, yet continually produced new enchantments. Saurabh Dube helpfully establishes this pattern, and especially sheds light on the ways in which colonial and postcolonial power relationships are interwoven with spiritual meanings. He rightly and persuasively brings such apparently marginal actors as evangelical missionaries and native Indian Christians onto center stage, and he does so with grace, lucidity, and insight.” — Craig Calhoun, president of the Social Science Research Council

“Saurabh Dube’s book will make a signal contribution to the political and theoretical legacy of South Asian subaltern studies. Based at the Colegio de México and in conversation with scholars and intellectuals based in Latin America, Dube has written a book that will enhance the dialogue between Latin American critical social thought and subaltern studies already underway. Historically grounded and theoretically sophisticated, Stitches on Time conveys the feeling of a new gaze in the tradition of subaltern studies, an awareness of a daily life out of place in relation to the subject of scholarly pursuit.” — Walter D. Mignolo, Duke University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Saurabh Dube is Professor of History in the Center for Asian and African Studies at El Colegio de México in Mexico City. His books include Untouchable Pasts: Religion, Identity, and Power among a Central Indian Community.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Abbreviations ix

Preface xi

Introduction 1

Colonial Textures

1 Traveling Light 31

2 Evangelical Entanglements 52

3 Telling Tales 76

4 Entitlements and Enmities 103

Postcolonial Tangles

5 Subaltern Subjects

6 Pilgrims’ Progress 164

7 The Enchanted and the Modern 177

Afterword 187


Glossary 231

Bibliography 233

Index 255
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3337-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3325-8
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