- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (26 August 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198064128
- ISBN-13: 978-0198064121
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 2.3 x 14 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
India - An Archaeological History: Paleolithic Beginnings to Early History Foundation Paperback – 26 Aug 2009
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About the Author
Dilip K. Chakrabarti is Emeritus Professor of South Asian Archaeology and Senior Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge University.
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What I have to criticise the author of, is his tendency to blame all ills on Westerners. It is off-putting to see him quote Edward Said, whose non-expertise in the field of Oriental Studies (he was an expert on nothing more than English literature, and did not know German - essential knowledge for all serious students of linguistics) has been well exposed in reviews of his work, as an authority on West-bashing. While it seems to be true that the English, in the heyday of Colonial Rule in India, often felt superior and would behave condescending towards Indians, it is an exaggeration to project such incidents onto Europeans at large, and especially it is sad to see the author suggest (p. 10-11) that Indology as a linguistic discipline developed in (quote) "close association with the Romantic Movement in early nineteenth century Germany and with the reconstruction, on that basis, of a master, unsullied race. Contemporary German nationalism often imagined such a master race at the roots of the Germanic identity. Around this time this master race was given a name too - the Aryans." - If anything, the roots of Comparative Linguistics are to be found in the Enlightenment and Rationalist, Utilistic spirits of the European eighteenth century, i.e. the very opposite of Romanticism. The German linguists who developed Comparative Linguistics in the years 1809 - ca. 1850 were not racists, they worked on these issues because they were impressed with the Oriental civilizations, and Germans did not coin the term Aryan or invent racism. The were not active in colonialism at the time (no country Germany even existed these days). I suppose that the author's exclusive British orientation is the cause of such misconceptions about non-British scholarship: indeed, his long bibliography on pp. 348-366 does not contain a single piece in a non-English language (this is a defect of Indian academia in general - as well as some British and American). In the introductory chapter, he seems to suggest that (present-day) ethnic rivalries in various parts of India was created artificially by the British in order to divide the Indian community. Not even the caste system is above suspection of being conjured up by plotting Britons...Moreover, he is clearly not familiar with linguistic issues in general: if so, he would not have tried to pretend that the Brahmi script has developed out of the blue, without influence from the North Semitic alphabets (the standard view).
My review has mentioned mainly problems with the text, and that is a shame, for virtually all the Said-inspired polemics is limited to the Introduction. When the author, in the main parts of the book, is doing what he is good at -writing on archaeological finds in India - I give him five stars. I have to detract one star for the non-expert-like stuff that I have outlined above. But the book deserves all the Western readers it can get and will hopefully even lure some of them to join in these researches.