This year, SouthAsia@LSE has published hundreds of articles which have been read thousands of times. Here are our top ten most popular Book Reviews by views published in 2019. Thanks to everyone for reading, and we look forward to bringing you the best in commentary and research on South Asia in 2020.
In The Constitution of India: A Contextual Analysis, Arun K. Thiruvengadam provides a concise introduction to the Indian Constitution, with insights not only into its history but also the political and legal events that have contributed to its evolution. Sania Ismailee recommends this accessible and engaging book to anyone who is keen to understand the underpinnings of the constitutional system in India.
In the second edition of Shuja Nawaz’s book Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army and the Wars Within, Florian Weigand finds over 600 pages on the history of the Pakistani army, providing an important description of the backdrop of contemporary dynamics in the country.
In Malevolent Republic: A Short History of the New India, debut author K. S. Komireddi examines the rise of the BJP and Narendra Modi, and the impact of his right-wing Hindu nationalist government on India. While the book offers an open and unabashed critique of the recently re-elected Prime Minister, Nilanjan Sarkar finds an informative, pithy and attention-grabbing book that also offers a trenchant critique of the Nehru-Gandhi ‘Dynasty’.
Signed just under sixty-years ago, between India and Pakistan the Indus Water Treaty, has successfully regulated one of the longest rivers in the world that passes through several state boundaries. In this book on the history of the Treaty, Gayathri D Naik finds a piece of scholarship that lucidly explains the history behind the successful governance of this precious, life-supporting river.
In Nation and Region in Grierson’s Linguistic Survey of India written by Javed Majeed, the hugely ambitious thirty-four year investigation into the many languages across India comes under the microscope. The second in Majeed’s two-volume study of the Survey, captures the complexity of the historic project and the challenges it posed to readers, collaborators, colonial and nationalist institutions, as well as to Grierson himself, writes Chris Moffat.
Long Read Book Review: Masala Shakespeare: How a Firangi Writer Became Indian by Jonathan Gil Harris
In Masala Shakespeare: How a Firangi Writer Became Indian by Jonathan Gill Harris, Harish Trivedi finds a book that examines the similarities between India and Shakespeare. Taking the author’s understanding of the word masala (in this case meaning something hybrid, mixed or more-than-one), Trivedi explains the problems of such a comparison and literary interpretation of Indian society and culture.
In Financializing Poverty: Labour and Risk in Indian Microfinance, Asad Abbasi finds a book that shows that the day-to-day bureaucracy of microfinance – the weekly meeting, the insurance forms, the guarantor forms – does not empower, but adds stress and labour in the lives of the urban borrowers.
Part of a series of books on Sexual Violence and Impunity in South Asia, Sohini Chatterjee finds n pioneering intersectional feminist work on the gendered political economy of violence and impunity which uncovers institutional failings, lack of political will, racism and sexism in India.
Long Read Review: Unwanted Neighbours: The Mughals, the Portuguese and their Frontier Zones by Jorge Flores
In Unwanted Neighbours: The Mughals, the Portuguese and their Frontier Zones, Jorge Flores explores the ways in which the Portuguese Estado da India—situated on the coastal peripheries of the Mughal empire—dealt with their Timurid neighbours from c. 1570 to c. 1640. Unwanted Neighbours is a book that is extremely rich in thematic concerns, empirical details, and includes a varied cast of characters. It also provides ways to consider the Empire’s rise as seen through the eyes of contemporaries situated outside it, paving the way for similar approaches to interrogating the hegemonic nature of other imperial structures, writes Aparna Kapadia.
In The British in India: Three Centuries of Ambition and Experience, David Gilmour provides a detailed, bottom-up account of the social history of the British in India. From soldiers to office workers, mothers to civil servants, Lionel Knight finds a book that pieces together historic sources to show what life has meant for the vast array of British citizens in India.