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Telling Lives in India

Biography, Autobiography, and Life History

"This book serves as a window into the rich and revealing lives and self-representations of the particular individuals who have produced the life histories. In so doing, it makes very important broader points about the use of life histories in social science research in general and in the study of South Asian social-cultural life in particular." -- Sarah Lamb

Life histories have a wide, if not universal, appeal. But what does it mean to narrate the story of a life, whether one's own or someone else's, orally or in writing? Which lives are worth telling, and who is authorized to tell them? The essays in this volume consider these questions through close examination of a wide range of biographies, autobiographies, diaries, and oral stories from India. Their subjects range from literary authors to housewives, politicians to folk heroes, and include young and old, women and men, the illiterate and the learned.

Contributors are David Arnold, Stuart Blackburn, Sudipta Kaviraj, Barbara D. Metcalf, Kirin Narayan, Francesca Orsini, Jonathan P. Parry, Jean-Luc Racine, Josiane Racine, David Shulman, and Sylvia Vatuk.