Guha, Ramachandra 1958-
GUHA, Ramachandra 1958-
Born 1958, in Dehradun, India. Education: St. Stephen's College, Delhi, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, India, Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Cricket.
Home—Bangalore, India. Office—Indian Institute of Management, 22-A Brunton Rd., Bangalore-560025, India. E-mail—[email protected]
Worked at various academic positions in India, Europe, and North America, 1985-95; freelance writer, 1995—. University of Southern California, Berkeley, visiting professor, 1997-98; has also taught at University of Oslo, Yale University, and Stanford University; St. Anthony's College, Oxford, senior associate member; Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, India, senior fellow; fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.
Leopold-Hidy Prize, American Society for Environmental History, 2001, for essay "Prehistory of Community Forestry in India"; Book of the Year prize, Daily Telegraph /Cricket Society, 2002, for A Corner of a Foreign Field.
Forestry and Social Protest in British Kumaun, c. 1893-1921, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences (Calcutta, India), 1985.
(With Madhav Gadgil) State Forestry and Social Conflict in British India: A Study in the Ecological Bases of Agrarian Protest, Indian Institute of Science, Centre for Ecological Sciences (Bangalore, India), 1988.
The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1990, expanded edition, 2000.
Sociology and the Dilemmas of Development, Indian Council of Social Science Research (New Delhi, India), 1994.
(With Madhav Gadgil) Ecology and Equity: The Use and Abuse of Nature in Contemporary India (also see below), Routledge (New York, NY), 1995.
(Editor, with David Arnold) Nature, Culture, Imperialism: Essays on the Environmental History of South Asia, Oxford University Press (New Delhi, India), 1995.
(With J. Martinez-Alier) Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and South, Earthscan Publications (London, England), 1997, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Savaging the Civilized: Verrier Elwin, His Tribals, and India, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1999.
(Editor, with Jonathan P. Perry) Institutions and Inequalities: Essays in Honor of André Beteille, Oxford University Press (New Delhi, India), 1999.
(Editor) Nature's Spokesman: M. Krishnan and Indian Wildlife, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Madhav Gadgil) The Use and Abuse of Nature (includes This Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India and Ecology and Equity), Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Environmentalism: A Global History, Longman (New York, NY), 2000.
An Anthropologist among the Marxists, and Other Essays, Permanent Black (Delhi, India), 2001.
(Editor) The Picador Book of Cricket, Picador (London, England), 2001.
A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport, Picador (London, England), 2002.
(Editor and author of introduction) Sujit Mukherjee, An Indian Cricket Century: Selected Writings, Orient Longman (Hyderabad, India), 2002.
The Last Liberal and Other Essays, Permanent Black (Delhi, India), 2004.
Guha's works have been translated into many languages, including French, German, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Assamese, Kannada, and Marathi. Contributor of biweekly column to The Hindu; contributor of articles to periodicals, including Times Literary Supplement, Granta, London, London Times, London Guardian, and Ecologist.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A history of independent India.
Since penning his first work in the mid-1980s, Indian social historian and author Ramachandra Guha has completed a number of books that deal with the social and environmental concerns of his native India. In a number of titles, including The Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India, Sociology and the Dilemmas of Development, Ecology and Equity: The Use and Abuse of Nature in Contemporary India, Nature, Culture, Imperialism: Essays on the Environmental History of South Asia, Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and South, and Environmentalism: A Global History, he focuses on how communities, particularly those that are tribal in nature, deal with modern development practices. For pleasure, Guha has also published several books about his favorite sport: cricket. These include A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport and The Picador Book of Cricket, as well as the anthology An Indian Cricket Century: Selected Writings. As the editors of India Today wrote of Guha, as reported on the Yale University Web site, "The range of his works is awesome.… Combining Gandhian values with lucid prose, Guha cannot be straitjacketed.… The net result is that Guha is read more avidly and widely than his more vocal contemporaries."
Among Guha's environmental works are his mid-1990s titles This Fissured Land and Ecology and Equity. In the first, Guha and collaborator and ecologist Gadgil Madhave chronicle the ecological history of India from primitive societies to modern societies, while in the second they argue for a new ecological paradigm. Reviewing the first title in the Journal of Asian Studies, John F. Richards called the book "a provocative, stimulating sketch of the long-term ecological history of the subcontinent. It is also unfortunately, very much a present-minded book, a tract for the times with a specific environmentalist agenda which distorts the argument." Similarly, P. P. Karan of Geographical Review called Ecology and Equity "a thoughtful and imaginative book." Although Karan found the pace a "little slow," a "bit dry," and "the solutions proposed … too general," he considered it a "successful synthesis of nature-society relationships in India."
In 2000 these titles were published together under the title The Use and Abuse of Nature. Reviewing the work for the Journal of Asian Studies, Abdul Jamil Urfi applauded the authors' efforts: "Overall, this book is indeed remarkable for its wide sweep of case studies from not just India but other parts of the world. It helps provide a full understanding of virtually all of the major environmental movements which have taken place in India over the past few decades." Yet the work was not viewed as flawless. "Problems … arise from the proselytizing nature of its arguments and the presentation of the material," conceded Urfi, who concluded, "Nevertheless, the authors' deep and sincere concern about environmental degradation in India and their clear, logical analysis and formidable cross-disciplinary armature make this book a fundamental advance in our understanding of environmental issues and problems."
Guha is also the editor of a number of works, including the 1997 collection Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and South, in which various authors explore the differences between the world's environmental ideas and movements. For his part, Guha discusses his definitions of such key terms as underdevelopment and overdevelopment. "I would like the language of 'overdevelopment' to enter the discourse on environmentalism," he stated on the Individual in a Global Society radio program. "I think that some people have too much. And sometimes it doesn't even create true human happiness." Also published that year was Nature, Culture, Imperialism, which Guha co-edited and for which he co-authored the introduction by putting the essays in context both within South Asian literature and North American scholarship.
In several works Guha focuses on an individual's role in environmentalism. Savaging the Civilized: Verrier Elwin, His Tribals, and India is an "important new biography" of Verrier Elwin, according to New Statesman critic Guy Mannes Abbott. Elwin was a ground-breaking ethnographer who lived among the tribal peoples of India and recorded their customs in a series of popular books. He also became a champion for their right to maintain traditional ways. In his thoroughly researched biography of Elwin, Guha compares the ethnographer to other English social critics who saw serious limitations with the industrial age. Sunil Khilnani, writing in the Times Literary Supplement highly praised Savaging the Civilized. "Guha has written an excellent biography, the best example of the genre by an Indian for many years," he commented, adding that Guha's "fascinating portrait" erases "easy distinctions between colonialist and nationalist, anthropologist and subject, missionary and convert, between dedicated scholar and louche amant."
Guha's Environmentalism: A Global History is an introductory textbook that provides a historical survey of environmentalism. The work caught the attention of several reviewers. "Guha's methodology leads to the omission of important components of the global history of environmental thought," wrote Ethics and the Environment reviewer James W. Sheppard concluding, "Overall, … the topics not covered work to neutralize what is accomplished by the topics that are covered." While acknowledging such omissions, however, Journal of World History reviewer Laxman D. Satya asserted, "This beautifully written and nice little paperback will be a valuable addition to anyone's collection."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, October, 1997, I. G. Simmons, review of Nature, Culture, Imperialism: Essays on the Environmental History of South Asia, pp. 1213-1214.
Choice, December, 1999, J. W. Webb, review of Savaging the Civilized: Verrier Elwin, His Tribals, and India p. 31.
Ecologist, May-June, 1996, Nityanand Jayaraman, review of Ecology and Equality: The Use and Abuse of Nature in Contemporary India, pp. 117-119.
Economist, July 27, 2002, "Great Balls of Fire: Indian Cricket."
English Historical Review, February, 2001, Peter J. Durrans, review of Savaging the Civilized, p. 273.
Ethics and the Environment, fall, 2003, James W. Sheppard, review of Environmentalism: A Global History, pp. 132-140.
Geographical Review, July, 1997, P. P. Karan, review of Equality and Equity, pp. 418-420.
International Affairs, January, 1998, Matthew Paterson, review of Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and South, p. 218.
Journal of Anthropological Research, fall, 2000, review of Savaging the Civilized, p. 392.
Journal of Asian Studies, November, 1992, James R. Hagan, review of The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya, pp. 954-955; November, 1995, Robert G. Varady, review of "Social Ecology," pp. 1129-1132; May, 1996, Richard P. Tucker, review of Nature, Culture, Imperialism, p. 483; August, 1996, John F. Richards, review of This Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India, p. 747; February, 2004, Abdul Jamil Urfi, review of The Use and Abuse of Nature, pp. 224-226.
Journal of Rural Studies, April, 2000, Kay Milton, review of Varieties of Environmentalism, p. 260.
Journal of the American Oriental Society, July-September, 1999, Rosane Rocher, review of Nature, Culture, Imperialism, p. 551.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, September, 2000, Adrian C. Mayer, review of Savaging the Civilized, p. 459.
Journal of World History, fall, 2002, Laxman D. Satya, review of Environmentalism, pp. 525-531.
New Scientist, May 17, 1999, Guy Mannes Abbott, review of Savaging the Civilized, p. 50.
New Statesman, May 17, 1999, Guy Mannes Abbot, review of Savaging the Civilized, p. 50; August 27, 2001, Salil Tripathi, "The Lord's View," pp. 39-40.
Pacific Affairs, spring, 1995, Eva Cheung Robinson, review of This Fissured Land, pp. 131-132.
Spectator, September 4, 1999, David Gilmour, review of Savaging the Civilized, p. 31; August 3, 2002, David Gilmour, "India's Undying Passion," pp. 29-30.
Times Higher Education Supplement, August 20, 1999, Sunil Janah, review of Savaging the Civilized, p. 31.
Times Literary Supplement, May 7, 1999, Sunil Khilnani, "The Man Who Married His Work," p. 10.
ThatsCricket.com,http://www.thatscricket.com/ (October 14, 2004), Sajith Balakrishnan, "Rendezvous with Ramachandra Guha."
WUGA Presents "The Individual in a Global Society,"http://www.lawsch.uga.edu/ (July 6, 1999), "Facilitating a Sustainable Future."
Yale University Web site,http://www.yale.edu/ (October 14, 2004), "TRI 20th Anniversary Celebration."*