Subjects of modernity

Time-space, disciplines, margins

Saurabh Dube
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This book explores modernity, the disciplines, and their interplay by drawing in critical considerations of time, space, and their enmeshments. Based in anthropology and history, and drawing on social-political theory (as well as other, complementary, critical perspectives), it focuses on socio-spatial/disciplinary subjects and hierarchical-coeval tousled temporalities. The spatial/temporal templates reveal how modern enticements and antinomies, far from being analytical abstractions, intimate instead ontological attributes and experiential dimensions of the worlds in which we live, and the spaces and times that we inhabit and articulate. Then, the book considers the oppositions and enchantments, the contradictions and contentions, and the identities and ambivalences spawned under modernity. At the same time, rather than approach such antinomies, enticements, and ambiguities as analytical errors or historical lacks, which await their correction or overcoming, it attempts to critically yet cautiously unfold these elements as constitutive of modern worlds. The book draws on social theory, political philosophy, and other scholarship in the critical humanities in order to make its claims concerning the mutual binds between everyday oppositions, routine enchantments, temporal ruptures, and spatial hierarchies of a modern provenance. Then, it turns to issues of identity and modernity. Finally, the book explores the terms of modernism on the Indian subcontinent.


‘Dube's book is an excellent reminder of the possibilities as well as the perils of modernity.'
Projit Bihari Mukharji, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Postcolonial Studies

‘Saurabh Dube’s Subjects of modernity is a conceptual reflection on and an extended dialogue with, the vast critical scholarship on modernity that the fields of postcolonial theory, history, and anthropology have yielded. However, rather than treating them as arguments to be transcended, Dube builds on this corpus of writings and further probes them. Methodologically speaking, for the work that this book does, Dube charts a space of, what he aptly calls, ‘disciplinary borderlands’ (3).’
South Asian History and Culture
May 2020

‘This book takes an ethnographic approach to its topic by endeavoring to observe how social and disciplinary subjects shaped by modernity go on to constitute modern worlds. Specifically, it attempts to “explore modernity as a contradictory and checkered historical- cultural entity and category as well as a contingent and contended process and condition” (1). Most of the subjects considered are intellectuals and academic disciplines (specifically history and anthropology), although the argument occasionally focuses on artists as well [...] Central to the volume—and its most original contribution—are various deliberations on the productions of time and space by various subjects. To be clear, by “time” the book means history and temporality whereas “space” suggests tradition and culture.’
History and Theory
May 2020

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