Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 October 2014
The volume, Subalternity, Exclusion and Social Change in India edited by Ashok K. Pankaj and Ajit K. Pandey, offers a comprehensive and critical perspective on the theoretical and substantive issues in the understanding of contemporary changes in Indian society. The conceptual adequacy of the notion of subalternity in the analysis of social change and comprehension of its multiple dimensions remains a challenging issue. The Indian subaltern school of historiography inaugurated a remarkable debate among historians on the nature of historiography and made several significant innovations. Its (Indian subaltern school) seminal contribution has been in the study of the nature of marginalization and inequalities in India and the exploration of the factors determining the disenchantment of the under-class, the poor and the exploited categories with the established social order which trigger continual tension and conflict in society. In addition, it made meaningful theoretical departures. With the aid of concrete social and cultural data it demonstrated the limitations of the functionalist paradigm, a dominant theoretical approach of the time, as it also enriched historiography by integrating it with the art of ethnography. It demonstrated how relevant it was that comparative ethnological studies across regions and communities in India were undertaken to offer meaningful understanding of the conflict and social processes.