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Nomadic Narratives
A History of Mobility and Identity in the Great Indian Desert


  • Date Published: April 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107080317

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About the Authors
  • The Thar Desert, which is today divided by an international boundary, has historically been a frontier region connecting Punjab, Multan, Sindh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. This book looks at the Desert as an historical region shaped through the mobility of its inhabitants - warriors, pastoralists, traders, ascetics and bards, often in overlapping capacities. It challenges the frames of Mughal-Rajput relationships generally employed to explore the histories of the Thar, arguing that Rajputana remains an inadequate category to explore polities located in this frontier region, where along with Rajputs, a range of groups, such as Charans, Bhils, Meenas, Soomras and Pathans controlled circulation, and with whom the Rajput states had to constantly negotiate. Sifting through a wide range of Rajasthani written and oral narratives, travelogues of British administrators, and vernacular as well as English records, the book explores long-term relationships between mobility, martiality, memory and identity in the desert expanses of the Thar.

    • Questions the idea of 'Rajput' history and explores the connectedness of community identities historically
    • Explores the relationship between prevalent ideas about improvement and settlement in the nineteenth century
    • Explores the role of memory in mobile societies as an assertive exercise aimed at constantly reiterating and reclaiming a past that was being effaced by written narratives
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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107080317
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 159 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of tables
    List of abbreviations
    Note on transliteration, translation and dates
    Contemporary place names and their nineteenth-century spellings
    1. Geographical imagination and narratives of a region
    2. Mobility, polity, territory
    3. Itinerants of the Thar: mobility and circulation
    4. Expanding state contracting space: the Thar in the nineteenth century
    5. Narratives of mobility and mobility of narratives
    Conclusions: nomadic narratives in the frontiers
    Appendix 1. Jodhpur King list
    Appendix 2. Bikaner King list
    Appendix 3. Jaisalmer King list

  • Author

    Tanuja Kothiyal, Ambedkar University, Delhi
    Tanuja Kothiyal teaches history at Ambedkar University Delhi, and is also a Fellow at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi. She is interested in studying networks of circulation, people, resources and ideas in medieval and early modern western Rajasthan. She is also interested in exploring oral narrative traditions in western India, as ways through which alternate/counter-narratives were produced and circulated.

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