Documents in transit: Writing vernacular histories of the Second World War

Deepak Naorem

A stray reference or scribbling on the margins of a document in an archive can lead to the discovery of an entirely unknown archive and recovering of neglected histories. Many historians experience such discoveries in their careers.

In 2011, I started working on the history of the Second World War in Northeast India and it took me to the National Archives of India to study the Indian National Army papers (Private paper collections, NAI, 1942-46).

This private paper is indeed a significant source for writing the history of the INA, their actions in Burma, Manipur and the former Naga Hills, and the participation of the locals in the war either on the side of the Allied forces or INA/Japanese forces.

A reference in a Ministry of State (Political Branch) document, dated 1949, to war compensation in Manipur and the Naga Hills for losses incurred in connection with Allied action during the war, however, caught my attention and put me on a research trajectory quite removed from what I originally planned.

Further digging in the National Archives led me to a series of correspondences between the Assam Government and the Ministry of Defence, which constantly referred to nearly a hundred thousand petitions from Manipur and the Naga Hills, seeking monetary compensation from the state for losses and damages during the war.

This revelation made me anticipate the possibility of locating these petitions in some dust-covered boxes in dark and damp record rooms of provincial archives of the region, and inspired my visits to the record rooms of District Collector’s offices and State Archives in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.

My encounters with these archives led to the beginning of a long process of unlearning and relearning about the complexities of local archives which were created in the frontier of the British Empire, and are now located in the borderlands of a state-nation.

For months, I looked for these petitions in the State Archives without any success.

None of the local historians I consulted had encountered or heard of these petitions. Their presence in the archives is also not indicated by the inadequate catalogues and cataloguing systems used in these local archives.

After much socializing with the staff of the State Archives in Imphal, and sharing my disappointment with them over cups of tea served in the quintessential glass cups, they informed me that the archives also store a large volume of documents which remained unarchived and uncatalogued.

It was in these categories of files that I made my subsequent discovery.

A large volume of files from various state departments, district collector offices, the old secretariat library and private custodians had been transferred to the State Archives since its establishment in 1982. Such transfer to the archives does not necessarily mean that they will be made accessible to the historians and public.

In fact, a large number of such documents, which are on the archive premises remain unarchived, and a significant number remained uncatalogued.

Here I am reminded of Haitian historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s work Silencing the Past, where he argues that the roots of silencing in history are structural, and begin even before the birth of the historian. Silencing happens at many crucial moments, and one of them is ‘the moment of fact assembly’ or the making/constitution of the archive.

Documents and manuscripts remain stuck in transit between the departments and donors who transferred the files and manuscripts and the shelves or dark storerooms in the archive building.

Since they are either unarchived or uncatalogued, they remained inaccessible to historians and this significantly contributed to the silencing of various histories. The silencing is exacerbated when files are disposed of by burning and disposing of volumes before they could be transferred to any kind of archive.


Monetary compensation and the Claim office

Before the end of the war itself, thousands of people from Manipur state and the Naga Hills started writing petitions seeking monetary compensation from the state. This led to the creation of the Claim office in Shillong and later with branches in Imphal and Kohima, a separate office to deal with this large number of petitions.

In Manipur, the files of the Claim Office along with these petitions were transferred to the State Archives (date of transfer unknown). These files have been given row and shelf numbers, indicating that they were archived. However, these files have not entered the pages of the catalogues of the archive.

Writing a vernacular history of the war

As a result, scholars are not aware of the existence of these files and petitions, and they cannot be requisitioned. Histories of the Second World War in the region are dominated by imperial and national histories. Oral accounts have been used by historians recently to recover vernacular histories of the war. However, these thousands of petitions in a state of transit in the archives of the region provide an alternative and quite an extensive source for writing a vernacular history of the war and help in recovering certain histories of the war which remain silenced.

Negotiating state and bureaucracy


Writing petitions emerged as a popular strategy for negotiating the colonial state and the bureaucracy in the everyday lives of people in the region since the early twentieth century. The local archives are hence full of different types of petitions. Seeking monetary compensation from the states is also not new in the region.

Thousands of individuals and villages in Manipur and the Naga Hills wrote petitions seeking compensation, monetary and in-kind, from the state. These petitions were either written by individuals or by a class of professional petition writers who wrote these petitions for a small remuneration. They were written in English or Meeteilon (Manipuri) in either Roman or Eastern Nagari script.

These petitions (some of them lengthy), are testimonies of their experience of the war and narrated their experience of displacement, deaths, bombing, destructions and loss of their movable and immovable properties, hunger, an outbreak of diseases, intimacies, encounters with the Allied and the Japanese armies and the failed relief and rehabilitation works of the state.

According to the Chief Claim officer in Shillong, a total number of 107747 and roughly 18000 petitions were received from Manipur state and the Naga Hills respectively, and they offer an alternative non-national and non-imperial history of the war.


The bureaucratic responses of the successive states in the region to these petitions also tell us about the complicated process of decolonisation and the transfer of power in the region. In the former Manipur state, the wartime colonial administration invited petitions from the distressed population. After 1947, the Manipuri administration started the process of assessing the petitions and distributing monetary compensation to some of the petitioners.

Once the Indian state took over the administration of the region in 1949, it introduced changes in the process of assessing compensation, which included introducing a form called ‘Form A for Claim Petition’ to replace the older lengthy unmanageable petitions.

To process their compensation claims, the petitioners needed to fill up this form. The purpose of this form was to isolate the information which was crucial for handling the dire issue of war compensation from the existing lengthy petitions. These large number of petitions and the subsequent bureaucratic writings and documentations as a response to these petitions, which are mostly in a state of transit in the archives of the region, are indeed exciting sources for not only recovering vernacular histories of the Second World War in Northeast India, but also an unconventional political history of the region.

DEEPAK NAOREM is Assistant Professor at Daulat Ram College, University of Delhi. His research interests include the history of colonial Northeast India and the Trans-Himalayan Region, history of literary cultures and of the Second World War in SOUTHEAST Asia.


Some of his publications are ‘Japanese invasion, war preparation, relief, rehabilitation, compensation and ‘state-making’ in an imperial frontier (1939–1955)’ in Asian Ethnicity,  ‘A Contested Line- Implementation of Inner Line Permit in Manipur’, in Kafila on September 15, 2015, ‘Myth Making and imagining a Brahmanical Manipur since 18th century CE’, and ‘Remembering Japan Laan: Struggle for Relief, Rehabilitation and Compensation’, in NE Scholar Journal (July 2018)

A personal catalogue – collections in Kerala by K. P. Girija

K. P. Girija has contributed her personal catalogue notes from two archives in Kerala

The following state archives hold materials and correspondence between the princely states and the newly formed united Kerala. Administrative reports of the former Travancore, Cochin , British Malabar states, and the Kerala state, and a few from the Madras Presidency are available along with the reports of various departments

The State Central Archives, Nalanda, Thiruvananthapuram

The following records of British Malabar are available in the State Central Archives, Thiruvananthapuram:

1) Records transferred from Government Secretariat Cellar (AD 1728-1956)

2) Malabar Collectorate records (1803-1898) and records transferred from Tamilnadu State Archives.

Some sample files that I had referred to during my work on indigenous knowledge are below:

General Section, Cover files 1765-1903

  1. B17 Sl.No.211/1839 File.15955 Medical regulations of the
    Madras government.
  2. B25 405/1853 15540 Abolition of the annual festival
    of Onam Padah celebrated among the lower castes on account of endangering the public peace.
  3. B53 816/1863 16083 Establishment of a medical
    school in Travancore.
  4. B218 3970/1896 8340 The constitution of the Medical
    Board
  5. B147 707/1890 Medicine for Cholera-found out
    by Muthuswamy Pillai.

General Section, 1912-22, Vol. III

  1. B102 Sl No.2096 C.No,628 Cholera Rules, changes proposed by
    Durbar physician.
  2. B105 2142 8/7 Cochin-Malayalam Calendar
  3. B108 2200 XIV/9 Petition for Ayurveda dispensary at
    Kunnathur
  4. B138 2777 11-2/7 Petition for a Vishavaidya shala at
    Nedumangad
  5. B172 II-4/1 Inspection notes of Director of Ayurveda
  6. B172 Vol.I & II II-17 Reorganisation of Ayurveda
    Pathashala (1918)

Confidential 1936-56

  1. B1037 505 All Travancore Ayurveda Vaidya
    Mandalam, Quilon.

State Central Archives (Annexe), Kottakakam, East Fort, Thiruvananthapuram

The Central Archives (annexe building) houses records from the princely State of Travancore including Census records, Education codes, etc. Most of the records are from the period 1400 to 1900 AD. The library contains records from the departments of Education, Revenue, Legislature, Local Government, Judiciary, Land Revenue, Public works, etc. It also has administrative records for Travancore and Cochin from the late 1800s.

The Regional Archives, Ernakulam

Consists of materials relating to the erstwhile Cochin state like gazetteer, administration report, census reports, palm leaf manuscripts, royal proclamations, materials in Urdu, Sanskrit, Persian, Dutch, Portuguese, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam etc.

The Regional Archives, Kozhikode

Apart from materials relating to British Malabar, the Regional Archives of Calicut has a list of old books which includes the following:

  • Book No. Name of Book Year
  • A/1501 Report on Sanitary Measures 1868-69
  • A/1577 Annual Report of Madras Medical College 1856-57
  • C/99 The Civil Medical Code 1913
  • Education
  • E/20 Progress of Education in India, Vol.I, 1902-1907 1909 (H.W. Crange)
  • E/21 Progress of Education in India, Vol.II,1902-1907
  • E/22 Progress of Education in India, Vol.I, 1907-1912 1913 (H. Sharp)
  • E/23 Progress of Education in India, Vol.II, 1907-1912
  • G/86 Guide to the Records of the Malabar District, Vol.I 1714-1885
  • G/94 Guide to the Records of the Malabar District, Vol.IX 1906
  • S/03 Proceedings of the International Sanitary
  • Conference of 1866 1868
  • C/200 Pulayar Nootandukalil (Malayalam), Kunnukuzhi Mani 1989

Compiled by: K P Girija & Teena Antony

K P Girija is an independent scholar based out of Kerala. She was a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Her area of research interest includes gender studies, development practices, questions that explore the politics and history of knowledge formation and their philosophical and psychological foundations. Her recent book is Mapping the History of Ayurveda: Culture, Hegemony and the Rhetoric of Diversity (2022, Abingdon: Routledge).

Kottayam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Irinjalakuda, Calicut, and a personal collection by Shiju Alex

Another contribution by K. P. Girja, with inputs from Teena Antony

Kerala Council for Historical Research: Library and Research Resource Centre, Nalanda, Thiruvananthapuram – 695003

The library has books on social science theories, Indian history, and Kerala history. It has a local history archive of biographies, village histories and family histories. Gazetteers, administrative reports, manuals and Census of India reports are also available in the KCHR library.

St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara Archives and Research Centre, St. Joseph’s Monastery, Mannanam, Kottayam-686561

Contains magazines, books and manuscripts from the 1800s. Some of the manuscripts are in Syriac, while others are in Malayalam. They also have materials in English, Latin and Tamil. Most of the books are related to church history, accounts of the monastery, and the first printed materials from the monastery. There are also letters, works and other books related to Kuriakose Elias Chavara. More details about the archive are available on their site.

Mar Thoma Theological Seminary, Kottayam-686001

A collection mostly relevant to biblical studies, religious studies, ministry, and historical documents connected to the Malankara Syrian Church. They have manuscripts, Palm leaf manuscripts, etc. However, the collection is not extensive as this is a relatively new library.

The Collins Library, CMS College, Kottayam-686001

One of the most extensive collections of missionary records, gazettes, and books from the early missionary period in Kerala. The entire collection of the Diocesan Gazette published by the CMS, The Travancore and Cochin Diocesan Record, and missionary records by CMS members who worked in other parts of the world are available here.

Satyadeepam, Lisie Hospital Road, Ernakulam North, Kochi-682 018

All the old issues of Satyadeepam newspapers starting from the mid-twentieth century.

Sree Narayana (S.N) Public Library and Reading Room, Mukundapuram, Irinjalakuda-680125

Founded in the memory of C.R. Kesavan Vaidyar, an industrialist and an SNDP (Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam) organiser. He was a disciple of Sree Narayan Guru.

The library has bound volumes of Vivekodayam magazine, the mouthpiece of SNDP, from 1950 onwards. Magazines such as MathrubhumiBhashaposhiniKalakaumudi and selected works on Sree Narayana Guru are also available.

Desaposhini Public Library, Kuthiravattom, Calicut -673016

The Desaposhini public library was established in 1937 and it has a vast collection of books, magazines, reference books and newspapers. A catalogue of the library is available on their website.


Shiju Alex collections

Apart from the above-mentioned collections, Shiju Alex has taken a personal interest in digitising old and rare materials about Kerala.
With the support of a few friends, he painstakingly digitised magazines, school textbooks, and other materials pertaining to indigenous medicine, literature, vasthusastra, culture and science. This is a valuable repository of all kinds of knowledge practices from the eighteenth century onwards.
Unfortunately, he recently declared that he has stopped this activity because of the lack of time, labour and assistance from a larger group of people to scale up the project.
Most of his collections are available at 
https://archive.org/details/kerala-archives


Compiled by: K P Girija & Teena Antony

K P Girija is an independent scholar based out of Kerala. She was a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Her area of research interest includes gender studies, development practices, questions that explore the politics and history of knowledge formation and their philosophical and psychological foundations. Her recent book is Mapping the History of Ayurveda: Culture, Hegemony and the Rhetoric of Diversity (2022, Abingdon: Routledge).

Teena Antony is a freelance editor and web content writer. Her research area and interests include women’s history, women’s education, literature for women, and the history of Kerala. Her work has focused specifically on periodicals for women published from pre-Independence Kerala. She is currently part of the editorial team of the forthcoming magazine, Samyukta Journal on Cinema.

Between Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram – libraries in Kerala

by K. P. Girija

with inputs from Teena Antony

This list of libraries and institutions provided by K. P. Girija and Teena Antony provides an overview of various kinds of library and archives, includes lists of magazines and old texts in Malayalam and Sanskrit (also in Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada) and is especially useful for researchers interested in various aspects of Kerala from the nineteenth century onwards.

Appan Thampuran Memorial Library (Appan Thampuran Smaraka Vayanashala), Kairali Gramam, Ayyanthole, Thrissur-680003

The Appan Thampuran Memorial Library has a collection of more than 3000 magazines including old and contemporary magazines.

The bound volumes of magazines such as Sharada, Vidya Vinodini (1890 -1902), Bhashaposhini (1894-1934), Rasikaranjini (1903-1907), Vivekodayam, Mathrubhumi, Mangalodayam, Athmaposhini, Gurunathan, Paurasthyadoothan, Rajarshi, Unni Nampoothiri and a number of magazines on indigenous medicine such as Dhanwantari (1903-1926), Arogyachandrika, Arogyabandhu, Ayurvedaratnam, Ayurvedic Gazette, Vaidyasarathi, Sukhasamsi and Nattuvaidyan are available in the library.

A writer’s museum is also attached to this library.

The magazine section consists of 7160 bound volumes as per the Kerala Sahitya Akademi enumeration. The Appan Thampuran Memorial Library functions under the Kerala Sahitya Akademi.

Kerala Sahitya Akademi, Thrissur-680020

Kerala Sahitya Akademi contains a huge collection of Malayalam books and hundreds of Sanskrit books in diverse areas. It also has bound volumes of periodicals, palm leaves, microfilm rolls and audio-video cassettes. The library has a few books that were used as textbooks in schools in the early twentieth century in the princely states of Cochin and Travancore. The catalogue of books available in the Kerala Sahitya Akademi can be accessed through the link provided.

The Chithira Thirunal Grandhashala, Vanchiyoor Junction, Near District Court, Thiruvananthapuram–695035

The library has a collection of books in Malayalam literature and history, some palm-leaf manuscripts, and many old magazines such as Lakshmibai, one of the oldest women’s magazines and Dhanwantari, an Ayurveda magazine. They have a catalogue that is not current and can be accessed only physically.

The State Central Library, Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram-695033

The State Central Library in Thiruvananthapuram is another resource centre for old and new books. They have a closed reference collection of rare books from 1600 onwards which includes a book on Latin from 1569. Another interesting collection is that of the gazettes of Travancore and Cochin from 1903 onwards and the Fort St. George gazette of Madras Presidency. Magazines and newspapers are preserved from 1975 onwards. The library consists of Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and Kannada language collections. Some of their older collections are digitized and available online. Check the link provided.

When the British Library, Thiruvananthapuram decided to close down their service in the city in 2010, they had handed over their entire collection of 25000 books to the State Central Library and it is kept as a separate section. This collection includes books on literature, science, technology, law, history etc. from British authors in main.

Kerala Legislature Library, Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram-695033

This library is attached to the new Legislative Assembly building in Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram. The library houses legislative assembly proceedings of Travancore and Cochin from the late nineteenth century. Many of these are available online. There are copies of assembly committee reports, government committee reports, census reports, government gazettes, parliamentary reports of the government of India, and a few rare books and manuscripts. It also has back issues of several newspapers, magazines, and periodicals from the mid to late twentieth century.

K.N. Raj Library, Centre for Developmental Studies, Prasanth Nagar, Medical College P.O, Ulloor, Thiruvananthapuram-695011

Most of the materials in the library are recent studies and research in the field of cultural studies, economics, development studies, education, statistics, sociology, history etc. There are also copies of statistical reports, and administrative reports from the princely states of Travancore, Cochin and British Malabar. The library has a complete collection of the Census of India Volumes from 1872 to 2011. There are several maps and microform (microfilm and microfiche) documents on social sciences available in the library.

Mahakavi Ulloor Memorial Library and Research Centre, DPI Junction, Jagathy, Thiruvananthapuram-695014

The library has nearly complete collections of issues of many magazines, especially women’s magazines like Sharada, from before Indian Independence. It also houses the reference materials used by the poet Ulloor for the biographical collection he wrote.

also see: Ulloor general catalogue – Aparna Balachandran

Ashokan Nambiar on the Ulloor collection

Compiled by: K P Girija

with inputs from Teena Antony

K P Girija is an independent scholar based out of Kerala. She was a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Her area of research interest includes gender studies, development practices, questions that explore the politics and history of knowledge formation and their philosophical and psychological foundations. Her recent book is Mapping the History of Ayurveda: Culture, Hegemony and the Rhetoric of Diversity (2022, Abingdon: Routledge).

Teena Antony is a freelance editor and web content writer. Her research area and interests include women’s history, women’s education, literature for women, and the history of Kerala. Her work has focused specifically on periodicals for women published from pre-Independence Kerala. She is currently part of the editorial team of the forthcoming magazine, Samyukta Journal on Cinema.

JNU pamphlets 1997

I preserved some of the pamphlets that were circulated during the years spent in JNU. Hope someone can use them.

april-1997.pdf

These are from the month after Chandrashekhar was killed

1. Chandrashekhar Smriti Andolan, 4/8/1997, Sanyojan Samiti,

2. Siwan Chalo, 6/4/1997, AISA

3. The fight has just begun, 8/4/1997, JNU Students Co-ordination Committee

4. Mandi House, 10/8/1997, Friends of Chandrashekhar

5. CPI (ML) Liberation Foundation Day, Why we need an M-L politics today, 22/4/1997, AISA

6. Arrest Sadhu Yadav, Enquiry into police atrocities on protesting students at PM’s residence, 22/4/1997, JNU Students Co-ordination Committee

September 1997

Nationalism at fifty 25/9/1997 AISA

Unity against a politics of fear 28/9/1997

Chandrashekhar Smriti Andolan

Assert student power in solidarity with the JNUTA 28/9/1997, AISA

ABVP Election Manifesto 1997

Relive the Legacy of United Struggles 29/9/1997, AISA

Rout forces of lumpenism and compromise 08/10/1997, PDSU

Need for the Bahujan Unity for Complete Transfer of Power 13/10/1997 Bahujan Students’ Front – Rashtriya Chhatra Janata Dal

The platform for United Students’ Struggle 13/10/1997 Free Thinkers

Anniversary of Com. Shakeel Ahmed Baksh 14/10/1997 SFI-AISF

ABVP 14/10/1997

Regional Archives, Ernakulam

Ashokan Nambiar

This is the second in the series by Ashokan Nambiar on different collections and libraries in Kerala that aid the study of its print history.

Image taken from website:https://www.keralaarchives.org

The following is a list that indexes a select few archival materials (books, documents, government acts) available in the collection in the Regional Archives, Ernakulam. It is a rather sparse list. I have not found many materials here that are directly connected to my area of research – early Malayalam print artefacts and related materials to write a history of the Malayalam print culture at the time of its inception. A copy of one of the early periodicals in Malayalam titled Vidya Samgraham (1864-66), printed at the CMS Press, Kottayam, and published by CMS College, Kottayam is available in the collection (V series, V 5). 

Download: Brief index of the Ernakulam archives

Other documents that aroused my general curiosity include a document in the C series (C 133) – the Correspondence between the Raja of Cochin and the British – 1891- 44 – which might be helpful in understanding the power dynamics between the British Empire and the now compromised power of the sovereign of the Princely State of Cochin during the crucial period between 1890 and 1945. 

In the H series (H 27) the document “Historical background of the Konkani language movement in Kerala” might be useful for those who look at the linguistic composition in South India. 

Regional Archives, Ernakulam

SuperintendentSri.P.K.Sajeev
Regional Archives,
Ernakulam
Phone: 0484 2369686
ArchivistSri E.V.Vasudev
Regional Archives, Ernakulam
Phone: 0484 2369686

Ashokan Nambiar is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Manipal Centre for Humanities. He currently teaches courses on narrative and the novel. His doctoral thesis, ‘Print, Communities and the Novel in Nineteenth-century Kerala’ was completed in 2015 at the University of Delhi. Areas of research interest are literary history, literary cultures, print culture, and the historical interface between the disciplines of literature and history. His publications include, ‘Translation as Production of the New: Some Reflections on the Nineteenth-century Malayalam Literary Space’, 2018, Caesurae: Poetics of Cultural Translation, Vol 2:2, ‘Missionaries and Making of a Malayalam Print Culture in Nineteenth-century Kerala, 2017, M. Sreenathan ed. Missionary Linguistics, Tirur, Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, 2017.

JNU Pamphlets

I preserved some of the pamphlets that were circulated during the years I spent in JNU. Hope someone can use them. These were written by students decades ago. Some of them may have changed their views on things.

1996

  • Chandrashekhar Prasad, JNUSU President

August to November 1996 – JNU Pamphlets

Construction of hostels, SFI, 21/8/96

New Economic Policy, CPM, BJP etc. AISA, 25/8/96

Hostels and transport, ABVP, 25/8/96

ABVP hunger strike against AISA-led JNUSU, 26/8/96

Marx Study Forum organised talk by Prof. Jayati Ghosh, 26/8/96

JNUSU UGBM on hostels, victimisation, transparency, Chandrashekhar Prasad, Anil Mathew, 27/8/96

AISA public meeting on Bathani Tola Massacre, Ranveer Sena, Speakers: Kumudini Pati, Central Committee Member CPI (ML), Sumit Chakraborty, Editor, Mainstream, Gopal Pradhan, Founder Convenor, AISA, JNU, 27/8/96

pre-UGBM on hostels, transport, SFI, 27/8/96

Slash in Education budget by United Front government, AISF 12/9/96

Protest at HRD Ministry on scrapping of fellowships in Science Schools, AISA, 16/9/96

Against ABVP agenda, SFI, 11/10/96

1997

March 3, Sutlej hostel

AISF – Politics of anti-feminism and feminism

Sutlej hostel President GBM

Women’s Day ’97

SFI 9/3/97

AISA Nationalism at fifty

AISA Privatisation: Resource crunch or policy shift

Working on early Malayalam print? a brief guide – The Ulloor Library Index

Ashokan Nambiar

Ashokan Nambiar generously contributed this guide to early Malayalam print through a brief catalogue of titles he saw in the Mahakavi Ulloor Memorial Library, Thiruvananthapuram

List of books published between 1880-1920

The following list indexes the books published in Malayalam during the last decades of nineteenth century and early decades of twentieth century in the south Indian state of Kerala. The list is generated from the catalogue of Mahakavi Ulloor Memorial Library and Research Centre, popularly known as Ulloor Smakaram, located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Many of the books listed below are published between 1880 and 1920.

I compiled this while doing my doctoral research work, between 2010-2015, in which I tried to write a new account for the formation of early Malayalam novels by placing them in the now emergent print culture. Compiling the list helped me to get an initial and broad sense of publishing culture in Kerala at that point of time.

For  example, the collection has some of the textbooks published by the Travancore Text Book Committee formed in 1867 and chaired for long by Kerala Varma Valiya Koyil Thampuran, one of the most important figures of nineteenth century Kerala.  The committee produced a range of text books in modern Malayalam suitable for class room teaching in school which adopted a modern pedagogic practice. The library also holds copies of editions of many early Malayalam periodicals such as Vidya Vinodini, Vidya Vilasini, Rasikaranjini etc.

The collection can be very useful for researchers on nineteenth century and early twentieth century Kerala as many of them are not republished and not easily available. 

Also see: Ulloor general catalogue – Aparna Balachandran (This catalogue was prepared as part of the original Archives and Access project, co-directed by Aparna Balachandran)

Ulloor Smarakam
DPI Junction, 
Jagathy,
Thiruvananthapuram – 695 014
Phone: +91 471 2325406

Ashokan Nambiar is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Manipal Centre for Humanities. He currently teaches courses on narrative and the novel. His doctoral thesis, ‘Print, Communities and the Novel in Nineteenth-century Kerala’ was completed in 2015 at the University of Delhi. Areas of research interest are literary history, literary cultures, print culture, and the historical interface between the disciplines of literature and history. His publications include, ‘Translation as Production of the New: Some Reflections on the Nineteenth-century Malayalam Literary Space’, 2018, Caesurae: Poetics of Cultural Translation, Vol 2:2, ‘Missionaries and Making of a Malayalam Print Culture in Nineteenth-century Kerala, 2017, M. Sreenathan ed. Missionary Linguistics, Tirur, Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, 2017.

Cartas sem Destino – Letters to nowhere

From a primary school teacher born in the village of Aldona in North Goa.

Eduardo de Sousa was a professor in the Liceu Nacional in Goa, but spent a large part of his life teaching in primary school in various parts of Goa. He was born in Aldona and completed his matriculation and other courses available to him, from Marathi to Pharmacy to Political Administration. He contributed to various newspapers, principally the Correio de Bardês, where the text above appeared in instalments.

Cartas sem Destino is an exchange of letters between two women, Lina and Paula, containing reflections on social and economic questions of the times. It mentions the death of a prominent writer and professor from Salsete, who despite not having access to educational institutions as many women of the time, was an influential intellectual figure. Why did de Sousa choose female persona. Did they provide a bridge for reflections on the ethics of the economy of the home and the individual and its links to a broader public economy?

Who’s Afraid of an Emergency?

The NCBS Public Lecture Series

The title to an article in the India Today of 1975 (Who’s afraid of the Emergency?) continues to echo for various reasons. The Emergency — an official subversion of the constitutional rule of law between June 1975 and March 1977 — was a period of questioning for Indian independence and democratic norms. For this edition of the Archives Public Lecture Series, Maya Dodd and Rochelle Pinto will highlight the question of public access, through the example of archival access to the Emergency papers. The archives of the Emergency are a reminder that official archives mediate the politics of the past and the present.

Maya Dodd’s research on the Emergency was an inquiry into the archives of Indian democracy. The Archive and Access project enabled a display of Dodd’s search for these forms of writing across various libraries, especially up to the recent digital publication of some vital sources like the Shah Commission Report, government documents and prison diaries. Primary sources from this period form part of the continuing telling of the Emergency into the present, allowing further questions about public accountability and open archives. And has the impetus today for digital technology and the growth of online commercial archives changed the relationship of secrecy and control between citizen and state? Together in conversation, Dodd and Pinto will query how accessing archives around the Indian Emergency illustrate contemporary practices around archival materials in India.

Venkat Srinivasan
Venkat is the archivist at the Archives, National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India (http://archives.ncbs.res.in/), a centre for the history of contemporary biology in India. Together with software developers at Janastu, he is also developing an archival commons to find and share archival material and narrate stories from these (http://milli.link/)

Maya Dodd is Assistant Dean, Teaching, Learning and Engagement and an Associate Professor at FLAME University, Pune, India. She completed her Ph.D. from Stanford University, and subsequent post-doctoral fellowships at CLGS, JNU and with the Committee for South Asian Studies at Princeton University. She currently serves on the steering committee of DHARTI (The Digital Humanities Alliance for Research and Teaching Innovations) which is an initiative towards organising and facilitating digital practices in arts and humanities scholarship in India. Her work is featured in Exploring Digital Humanities in India: Pedagogies, Practices, and Institutional Possibilities (Routledge, 2020) and Media Culture in Transnational Asia: Convergences and Divergences (Rutgers University Press, 2020) and guided student DH projects can be viewed online too

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