By Farina Mir
This wealthy cultural historical past set in Punjab examines a little-studied physique of renowned literature to demonstrate either the sturdiness of a vernacular literary culture and the boundaries of colonial dominance in British India. Farina Mir asks how qisse , a colourful style of epics and romances, flourished in colonial Punjab regardless of British efforts to marginalize the Punjabi language. She explores themes together with Punjabi linguistic practices, print and function, and the symbolic content material of qisse. She reveals that even if the British denied Punjabi language and literature just about all sorts of nation patronage, the resilience of this well known style got here from its outdated yet dynamic corpus of news, their representations of position, and the ethical sensibility that suffused them. Her multidisciplinary learn reframes inquiry into cultural formations in late-colonial north India clear of a spotlight on spiritual communal identities and nationalist politics and towards a frequent, ecumenical, and place-centered poetics of belonging within the sector.
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Additional info for The Social Space of Language: Vernacular Culture in British Colonial Punjab
Udham Singh’s and Amrita Pritam’s uses of Hir-Ranjha make this evident. For Singh and Pritam—and for Ganesh Das before them, and countless others since—the story of Hir-Ranjha was far more than a fictional romance; the tale’s most revered poet, Waris Shah, was far more than a name from the distant past. Hir-Ranjha and the qissa tradition embodied the historical imagination of a broad cross-section of the Punjab, and that imagination, as we will see, was far more open-ended and complex than a narrowly communalist interpretation can account for.
That is, simply being a Punjabi speaker did not make one a participant in the formation. Belonging was secured by active participation in the literary tradition. The threshold for belonging was quite expansive, however—the formation was far more inclusive than exclusive. The Punjabi literary formation was not class-, caste-, religion-, or gender-specific, and it encompassed both reading and listening publics. One could engage and gain experience in this activity 18 Introduction by composing or performing a Punjabi text, by patronizing a public performance, or by participating in highly refined listening practices.
While scholars may thus disagree about whether Sikh sacred scriptures such as the Adi Granth and the Dasam Granth are central to a Punjabi literary canon, as Uberoi would have it, there is more scholarly consensus on the inclusion of a number of sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and eighteenth-century poets who wrote in a range of verse forms. Among these are Bhai Gurdas Bhalla (c. 1550s–1635), Shah Husain (c. 1530s–1600), Sultan Bahu (1629–91), Damodar (c. early seventeenth century), Muqbal (c. mid-eighteenth century), and Waris Shah (c.
The Social Space of Language: Vernacular Culture in British Colonial Punjab by Farina Mir