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Emeritus Professor David Hardiman

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Academic Profile

David Hardiman was born in Rawalpindi in Pakistan in October 1947. He was brought up in England, studying at Sherborne School in Dorset, the London School of Economics (B.A. in History, 1970) and the University of Sussex. (D.Phil. in South Asian History, 1975). As a historian, he specialises in the history of Modern India. He has taught at the University of Leicester, the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, the University of Oxford, and since 1996, the University of Warwick. He worked as a Research fellow at the Centre for Social Studies, Surat, India during the 1980s, and has held visiting fellowships at the Australian National University, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in London, Princeton University and the University of Manchester. He has received research awards from the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, the Indian Social Science Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the Economic and Social Research Council. He is a founding member of the Subaltern Studies group, and on the editorial collective of the Subaltern Studies series. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Selected Publications

1) Books

2) Selected articles

  • ‘Towards a History of Nonviolent Resistance’, (PDF Document) Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 48, No. 23, 8 June 2013, pp. 41-48.

  • ‘A Subaltern Christianity: Faith Healing in Southern Gujarat’, in David Hardiman and Projit Bihari Mukharji (eds.), Medical Marginality in South Asia: Situating Subaltern Therapeutics, Routledge, Abingdon, 2012.
  • ‘The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and the Adivasis of Western India’, Social History of Medicine, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2012, pp. 644-664.

  • 'Gandhi’s Global Legacy’, in Judith M. Brown and Anthony Parel (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Gandhi, Cambridge University Press, New York 2011, pp. 239-257.
  • Indian Medical Indigeneity: From Nationalist Assertion to the Global Market’, Social History, Vol. 34, No. 3, August 2009, pp.263-83.
  • ‘The Mission Hospital 1880-1960,’ in Mark Harrison, Margaret Jones, and Helen Sweet (eds.), From Western Medicine to Global Medicine: The Hospital Beyond the West, Orient Longman, New Delhi 2009.

  • ‘The Invention of Indian Medical Traditions’, Biblio: A Review of Books, Vol.12, Nos. 9 & 10, September-October 2007, pp.24-25.

  • ‘Healing, Medical Power and the Poor: Contests in Tribal India,’ Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 42, No. 16, 21 April 2007, pp. 1404-08.
  • ‘The Politics of Water Scarcity in Gujarat,’ in Amita Baviskar (ed.), Waterscapes: The Cultural Politics of a Natural Resource, Permanent Black, New Delhi 2006, pp.39-62.
  • ‘Christian Therapy: Medical Missionaries and the Adivasis of Western India, 1880-1930’, in David Hardiman (ed.), Healing Bodies, Saving Souls: Medical Missions in Asia and Africa, Editions Rodopi, Amsterdam and New York, 2006, pp.137-67.
  • ‘Knowledge of the Bhils and their Systems of Healing,’ The Indian Historical Review, Vol. 33, No. 1, January 2006, pp. 202-24.
  • ‘A Forgotten Massacre: Motilal Tejawat and his Movement amongst the Bhils 1921-22,’ in David Hardiman, Histories for the Subordinated, Permanent Black, New Delhi 2006, pp. 29-56.
  • ‘Assertion, Conversion and Indian Nationalism: Govind’s Movement amongst the Bhils,’ in Rowena Robinson and Sathianathan Clarke (eds.), Religious Conversion in India: Modes, Motivations, and Meanings, Oxford University Press, New Delhi 2003.
  • ‘The Politics of Water in Colonial India,’ in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Vol.25, No.2, August 2002.
  • ‘Christianity and the Adivasis of Gujarat’, in Labour, Marginalisation and Migration: Studies on Gujarat, India, in Ghanshyam Shah, Mario Rutten and Hein Streefkerk (eds.), Sage Publications, New Delhi 2002.
  • (With Parita Mukta), 'The Political Ecology of Nostalgia', Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, Vol.11, no.1, March 2000.
  • 'Well Irrigation in Gujarat: Systems of Use, Hierarchies of Control', Economic and Political Weekly (Bombay), Vol.33, no.25, 20 June 1998.
  • 'Usury, Dearth and Famine in Western India', Past and Present, No.152, August 1996.
  • 'Farming in the Forest: the Dangs 1830-1992', in Mark Poffenberger and Betsy McGean (eds.), Village Voices, Forest Choices: Joint Forest Management in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi 1996.
  • 'Community, Patriarchy, Honour: Raghu Bhangare's Revolt', The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol.23, no. 1, October 1995.
  • 'Small-Dam Systems of the Sahyadris', in David Arnold and Ramachandra Guha (ed.), Nature, Culture, Imperialism: Essays on the Environmental History of South Asia, Oxford University Press, New Delhi 1995.
  • 'Power in the Forest: The Dangs 1820-1920', in Subaltern Studies VIII, OxfordUniversity Press, New Delhi 1994.
  • 'The Bhils and Shahukars of Eastern Gujarat', in R.Guha (ed.), Subaltern Studies V, Oxford University Press, New Delhi 1987.
  • 'From Custom to Crime: The Politics of Drinking in Colonial South Gujarat', in R.Guha (ed.), Subaltern Studies IV, Oxford University Press, New Delhi 1985.
  • 'Adivasi Assertion in South Gujarat: The Devi Movement of 1922-23', in R.Guha (ed.),Subaltern Studies III, Oxford University Press, New Delhi 1984.
  • 'The Indian 'Faction': A Political Theory Examined', in R.Guha (ed.), SubalternStudies I, Oxford University Press, New Delhi 1982.

David Hardiman has studied and written on South Asian History since the late 1960s, and during this period has spent over a decade in all actually working in India. The main focus of his work has been on the on the colonial period in South Asian history, concentrating in particular on the effects of colonial rule on rural society, relationships of power at various levels, the Indian independence movement with a specific focus on the popular bases to Indian nationalism, and environmental and medical history.

In the late 1970s he became involved with a group of historians studying the social history of subordinate groups in South Asia. This led to the publication of a series of volume from 1981 onwards under the title Subaltern Studies. David Hardiman co-edited Volume VIII in this series and he continues to be a member of the editorial group of Subaltern Studies. The Gramscian term 'subaltern' - meaning 'subordinate group' - was chosen to emphasise the centrality of relationships of domination and subordination in a society in which class divides had not developed as in the industrialized world. The project sought for a sharp break from the predominant colonialist and nationalist paradigms of South Asian historiography, both of which were seen to validate the history of elites - whether colonial rulers or nationalist leaders - over and above the history of subordinate groups. The project has generated an internationally recognised body of writing. Over time, the project has moved forward in many innovative ways.

David Hardiman's main contributions to the project have been in a number of areas. He has carried out a detailed examination of the Indian nationalist movement at the local level in Gujarat - Gandhi's home region - bringing out the disjuncture between the aims and agendas of the Gandhian leadership and local peasant activists. He has examined the power-structures of rural society, carrying out for example a detailed study of the hegemonic controls exercised by usurers and the limits to that hegemony, as seen in particular in revolts. He has also studied a movement of assertion by adivasis (tribal people) against liquor dealers who had been granted a monopoly right of supply by the British and who had enriched themselves at the expense of the adivasis. In this movement, which took place in 1922-23, a goddess was believed to have taken possession of spirit-mediums, who then commanded the people to give up liquor and boycott the dealers. In adjoining areas, the goddess was supposed to have commanded her devotees to put a stop to witchcraft, and in some cases, to give their allegiance to Gandhi. The popular memories, stories and songs that provide a particularly rich source material for South Asian history have informed all of this work. To this end, he has sought consistently to enhance archival material with information collected directly from the areas he has studied. This involved extensive tours and protracted periods living in villages, talking with people, attending their gatherings and recording their stories and songs. He has utilized anthropological methods and learnt much from debates within the discipline regarding the role of the ethnographer, the limits to our knowledge and the dangers of advancing claims to speak 'for' the people. He has supported the call for a more historical approach within anthropology, providing through his writing one example as to how this may be achieved.

David Hardiman has also written a book on Gandhi and his legacy in India and the world. Having a particular detailed knowledge of Gandhi's own home region of Gujarat, he brings to the topic a deep knowledge of Gandhi's particular social milieu. His engagement with contemporary social issues while living in India has also been of crucial importance in assessing Gandhi's legacy in India.

From 1983 to 1989 he worked as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Studies, Surat in Gujarat, India. There was a strong emphasis there on the evaluation of government and NGO development projects, and, besides carrying on his historical research and writing, he became involved in a wide range of development-linked research projects. He often accompanied researchers on fieldwork, so as to learn about these many issues at first hand, and in some cases carried out his own independent research. This work made him aware in particular of the critical importance of environmental and health issues for the rural poor of South Asia. As a result of this experience he became involved in researching and writing on the history of the environment and the history of health and healing during the colonial period in India.

In 2001, David Hardiman was awarded a Wellcome Trust Fellowship to carry out research on the topic of: 'Healing and Civilising: Mission Medicine and the Tribals of Western India 1880-1960'. This built on his earlier work on spirit possession and social reform amongst these people, and has involved a close scrutiny of the archives of missionary societies to see how a new form of healing - that of western scientific medicine - was propagated, and the social conflicts that this process gave rise to. As a part of this project, he hosted a conference at Warwick in 2002 on mission medicine in Asia and Africa, some selected papers of which are to be published in the Clio Medica Series of the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, London, under the title Healing Bodies, Saving Souls: Medical Missions in Asia and Africa. From 2004 to 2007, he held an ESRC award to study the topic: ‘Medical Power and the Poor: Conflicts in Tribal India,’ being based for this project at the Centre for the History of Medicine at Warwick. In 2008 he published a book based on this work, titled Missionaries and their Medicine: A Christian Modernity for Tribal India.

A History of Subaltern Healing in South Asia

In 2010 he was awarded a Leverhulme Research Grant for three years to carry out research on 'A History of Nonviolent Resistance in South Asia', and he is now writing a book on that topic.

 David Hardiman