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Sumit Sarkar (Bengali সুমিত সরকার) (born 1939) is an Indian historian of modern India. He is the author of Swadeshi Movement.
Education and career
He studied at Presidency College, Calcutta and at the University of Calcutta. He taught for many years as a lecturer at the University of Calcutta, and later as a reader at the University of Burdwan. He was Professor of History at the University of Delhi.
He was one of the founding members of the Subaltern Studies Collective, but later distanced himself from the project. He noted that arguments made by the later issues of the journal as well as books by Partha Chatterjee in that they blanketly criticized the Enlightenment, the nation-state and secularism lined up with indigenist critiques that were at home with the Hindu right. In his view this error was traceable to a basic confusion in the early project that posed an absolute separation between the elite and subaltern domains. He was born into a family of illustrious historians. His father Susobhan Sarkar was also a pioneering historian and his elder sister Sipra Sarkar, was also a reputed historian and educationalist. His mother, Reba, was the youngest sister of legendary statistician P C Mahalanobis. His wife Tanika Sarkar is also a historian and daughter of renowned educationalists Sukumari and Amal Bhattacharya. On 24 January, 2018, he released Sahitya Samaj Itihas (Bengali সাহিত্য সমাজ ইতিহাস), a collection of Susobhan Sarkar Memorial Lectures (1996-2016), at the 34th annual conference of Paschimbanga Itihas Samsad (Bengali পশ্চিমবঙ্গ ইতিহাস সংসদ), held at the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University.
He was awarded the Rabindra Puraskar literary award for his book Writing Social History by the West Bengal government in 2004. He returned the award in 2007 in protest against the expulsion of farmers from their land.
He contributed a volume to the Towards Freedom project of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), publication of which was blocked in 2000 by the ICHR under the influence of then Indian government dominated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The publication of the volume was eventually allowed by the Government of India once the Congress party came to power after the general election of 2004.
- Modern Times
- Towards Freedom: Documents on the Movement for Independence in India, 1946, (New Delhi, 2007)
- Beyond Nationalist Frames: Post-Modernism, Hindu Fundamentalism, History, (Delhi, 2002)
- Writing Social History, (Delhi, 1998)
- Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of the Hindu Right, (with Tapan Basu, Pradip Datta, Tanika Sarkar and Sambuddha Sen; Orient Longman, 1993). ISBN 0863113834.
- Modern India: 1885-1947, (Basingstoke, 1989)
- The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, 1903-1908, (New Delhi, 1973)
- Sumit Sarkar, "The Decline of the Subaltern in Subaltern Studies," in Writing Social History pp. 82-108
- "'Nandigram was more shocking than Jallianwala Bagh'". The Times of India. 2007-03-17. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- "Righting or rewriting Hindu history". Asia Times. 2000-02-23. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- "'Towards Freedom' project revived". The Hindu. 2004-09-21. Retrieved 2008-03-27.