This is a book about prejudice and democracy, and the prejudice of democracy. In comparing the historical struggles of two geographically disparate populations - Indian Dalits (once known as Untouchables) and African Americans - Gyanendra Pandey, the leading subaltern historian, examines the multiple dimensions of prejudice in two of the world's leading democracies. The juxtaposition of two very different locations and histories, and within each of them of varying public and private narratives of struggle, allows for an uncommon analysis of the limits of citizenship in modern societies and states. Pandey, with his characteristic delicacy, probes the histories of his protagonists to uncover a shadowy world where intolerance and discrimination are part of both public and private lives. This unusual and sobering book is revelatory in its exploration of the contradictory history of promise and denial that is common to the official narratives of nations such as India and the United States and the ideologies of many opposition movements.
Gyanendra Pandey is Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Interdisciplinary Workshop in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies at Emory University. His books include Remembering Partition: Violence, Nationalism and History in India (2001) and Routine Violence: Nations, Fragments, Histories (2006).