Sumit Sarkar

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Sumit Sarkar
Alma materUniversity of Calcutta Presidency College

Sumit Sarkar (born 1939) is an Indian historian of modern India. He is the author of Swadeshi Movement.

Early life, education and career[edit]

He was born to Susobhan Sarkar. His maternal uncle was Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis.

He completed his BA (Honours) in history at Presidency College, Calcutta and MA and Ph.D. in the same subject at the University of Calcutta. He taught for many years as a lecturer at the University of Calcutta, and later as a reader at the University of Burdwan. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford. He was professor of history at the University of Delhi.[1]


He was awarded the Rabindra Puraskar literary award for his book Writing Social History by the West Bengal government in 2004. He returned the award in 2007 in protest against the expulsion of farmers from their land.[2]


He was one of the founding members of the Subaltern Studies Collective, but later distanced himself from the project. He noted that arguments made in the later issues of the journal as well as in books by Partha Chatterjee blanketly criticized Enlightenment, the nation-state and secularism lined up with indigenist critiques that were at home with the Hindu right. In his view this error was traceable to a basic confusion in the early project that posed an absolute separation between the elite and subaltern domains.[3]

He contributed a volume to the Towards Freedom project of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), publication of which was blocked in 2000 by the ICHR under the influence of then Indian government administered by the Bharatiya Janata Party as alleged by Sarkar.[4] The publication of the volume was eventually allowed by the Government of India once the Congress party came to power after the general election of 2004.[5]


  • Modern Times(Ranikhet, 2014)
  • Towards Freedom: Documents on the Movement for Independence in India, 1946, (New Delhi, 2007)
  • Beyond Nationalist Frames: Post-Modernism, Hindu Fundamentalism, History, (Delhi, 2002)
  • Writing Social History, (Delhi, 1998)
  • Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of the Hindu Right, (with Tapan Basu, Pradip Datta, Tanika Sarkar and Sambuddha Sen; Orient Longman, 1993). ISBN 0863113834.
  • Modern India: 1885-1947, (Basingstoke, 1989)
  • The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, 1903-1908, (New Delhi, 1973)


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Nandigram was more shocking than Jallianwala Bagh". The Times of India. 17 March 2007. Archived from the original on 7 December 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2008.
  3. ^ Sumit Sarkar, "The Decline of the Subaltern in Subaltern Studies," in Writing Social History pp. 82-108
  4. ^ "Righting or rewriting Hindu history". Asia Times. 23 February 2000. Archived from the original on 25 September 2000. Retrieved 27 March 2008.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. ^ "'Towards Freedom' project revived". The Hindu. 21 September 2004. Archived from the original on 14 November 2004. Retrieved 27 March 2008.

External links[edit]