Dube, Saurabh 1960-

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DUBE, Saurabh 1960-


Born December 18, 1960, in Raigarh, India; son of Shyama Charan (an anthropology professor) and Leela Ambardekar (an anthropology professor) Dube; married Ishita Banerjee (an historian), October 1, 1990. Ethnicity: "Indian." Education: St. Stephen's College, B.A. (history; with honors), 1982; University of Delhi, M.A. (history), 1984, M.Phil. (history), 1988; University of Cambridge, Ph.D. (history), 1992. Politics: "Broadly left: critical of all orthodoxies." Hobbies and other interests: Listening to music, especially jazz.


Home—15 Progreso, A-202, Sta. Catarina, Coyoacan, Mexico, DF 04010. Office—Centre for Asian and African Studies, El Colegio de México, Camino Al Ajusco No. 20, Mexico, DF 01000, Mexico. E-mail—[email protected]


Educator and author. St. Stephen's College, Delhi, India, lecturer in history, 1984-85; University of Delhi, Delhi, lecturer in modern history, 1986, lecturer in modern history at School of Continuing Education, 1986-92, senior lecturer, 1992-95; Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India, fellow, 1991-95; Centre for Asian and African Studies, El Colegio de México, visiting professor of modern and contemporary history, 1995-99, professor, 1999—. University of Iowa, Iowa City, visiting professor of history, fall 1997; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, visiting professor of history, spring 2000 and 2001.


Wort's travelling scholar award, University of Cambridge, 1993; post-doctoral research grant, Wenner Gren Foundation of Anthropological Research, 1993; National Career Award in History, University Grants Commission (India), 1994; Catedra Patrimonial Nivel II de Excelencia appointment-award, National Council of Science and Technology, Mexico, 1995-98; research grant, American Academy of Religion, 1997; Investigador Nacional Nivel II, Sistema Nacional de Investigadores, Mexico, 1999-2005.


(With Fanindam Deo and Ishita Banerjee-Dube) Daaru prathima na poojibe (title means "We Shall Not Worship the Wooden Image"), translated by Rajasekhar, Akshara (Sagar, Karnataka, India), 1993.

Caste and Sect in Village Life: Satnamis of Chhattisgarh, 1900-1950, Indian Institute of Advanced Study (Shimla, India), 1993.

Untouchable Pasts: Religion, Identity, and Power among a Central Indian Community, 1780-1950, State University Press of New York (Albany, NY), 1998.

(Editor and compiler) Pasados poscoloniales: Colección de ensayos sobre la nueva historia y etnografía de la India (title means "Postcolonial Pasts: Collection of Essays on the New History and Ethnography of India"), translated by Germán Franco Toriz, El Colegio de México (Mexico City, Mexico), 1999.

Sujetos subalternos: Capítulos de una historia antropológica (title means "Subaltern Subjects: Chapters in an Anthropological History"), translated by Germán Franco Toriz and Ari Bartra, El Colegio de México (Mexico City, Mexico), 2001.

Genealogías del presente: Conversión, colonialismo, cultura (title means "Genealogies of the Present: Conversion, Colonialism, Culture"), translated by Ari Bartra and Gilberto Conde, El Colegio de México (Mexico City, Mexico), 2003.

(Editor, with wife, Ishita Banerjee-Dube, and Walter Mignolo) Modernidades coloniales: Otros pasados, historias presentes (title means "Colonial Modernities: Other Pasts, Present Histories"), El Colegio de México (Mexico City, Mexico), 2003.

(Editor) Historical Anthropology ("Oxford in India Readings in Sociology and Social Anthropology" series), Oxford University Press (New Delhi, India), 2004.

Stitches on Time: Colonial Textures and Postcolonial Tangles, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 2004.

(Editor) Postcolonial Passages: Contemporary History-writing on India, Oxford University Press (New Delhi, India), 2004.

Also contributor to periodicals, including Economic and Political Weekly, Subaltern Studies, and Modern Asian Studies. Editor of special issue on enchantments of modernity for South Atlantic Quarterly, Volume 101, number 4, 2002, and coeditor of special issue on colonialism and modernity for Nepantla: Views from South, Volume 3, number 2, 2002. Member of editorial board, Estudios de Asia y Africa. General editor of book series, "New Perspectives on Indian Pasts," Yoda Press.


Native Witness: Colonial Writings of a Vernacular Christianity; Historias Esparcidas (title means "Scattered Histories"); History without Warranty.


Born and raised in India, the son of anthropologists, Saurabh Dube credits the multifaceted culture and social structure of his homeland with influencing both his interests and his writing style. As Dube told CA: "My effort is not only to combine history and ethnography, but to interweave narrative techniques with theoretical enquiries, descriptive devices with conceptual considerations, so that the one probes the other." An educator and historian, Dube writes on an array of topics, including the untouchable communities of India, colonial and modern law, and the role of Christian culture in Hindu regions. He reads widely, further influencing his own writing, delving into anything from academic materials to experimental fiction. Dube told CA that among his books, Stitches on Time: Colonial Textures and Postcolonial Tangles is his favorite: "It does the most to probe our typical ways of seeing and thinking, an effect that I hope my writings have."

Dube's Untouchable Pasts: Religion, Identity, and Power among a Central Indian Community, 1780-1950 explores the origin of the Satnampanth sect, which was founded by a farm worker named Ghasidas among a group of untouchables in central India during the nineteenth century. The sect members, or Satnamis, were required to give up eating meat, drinking liquor, and worshipping Hindu gods. Dube follows the development of the sect beyond Ghasidas's death, examining the effect of outside influences, such as the 1854 introduction of British colonial rule to the region and how the gurus of Satnampanth worked to achieve a measure of self-sufficiency for the Satnamis. Lawrence A. Babb commented in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute that "Dube traces the sect's … history in a manner that never loses sight of the dense interconnectedness of economics, forms of authority ritual, and myth." Dube identifies the sect as far more than a simple movement or religion. In Current Anthropology Diane P. Mines pointed out that Dube considers the sect "a growing and changing historical construction of community that involved multiple, entangled appropriations and counter appropriations. To name but a few: Satnamis appropriated Hinduisms; evangelical missionaries appropriated Satnampanth; Nationalists appropriated Satnampanth." She went on to comment that Dube "shows convincingly that it was the very plethora of dialogic constructions that defined Satnampanth as a social and historical reality—and as a resource for many agencies vying for power in the changing political-economic context of Chattisgarh and India."

The book continues to follow the sect through its economic decline into the twentieth century. Dube examines the effect of shifts in land restrictions and how the hierarchical society subjugated the Satnamis as a low-caste group. Owen M. Lynch, in a review for Pacific Affairs, suggested this is an incomplete picture, reflecting that "Dube does not directly address the effectiveness of Satnami resistance, symbolic reinterpretation and mythical self-aggrandizement in bettering their political, economic, and ritual position. Almost all the evidence presented shows a worsening of Satnamis' economic condition." However, this is only a small portion of the sect's history. Babb referred to the book as an "important and intelligent study," and called it "one of the best sectarian studies I have yet seen … a must for South Asianists and anyone interested in social enquiry in the subaltern-studies mode." Mines concluded that "it is remarkable that Dube has been able to integrate as many themes as he has. He has given us a scholarly and intellectually stimulating account."



Current Anthropology, June, 2000, Diane P. Mines, review of Untouchable Pasts: Religion, Identity, and Power among a Central Indian Community, 1780-1950, p. 470.

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, March, 2001, Lawrence A. Babb, review of Untouchable Pasts, p. 194.

Pacific Affairs, spring, 2000, Owen M. Lynch, review of Untouchable Pasts, p. 135.