This is the first cultural and literary history of India and the First World War, with archival research from Europe and South Asia.
Based on ten years of research, Santanu Das' India, Empire, and First World War Culture: Subtitle: Literature, Images, and Songs recovers the sensuous experience of combatants, non-combatants and civilians from undivided India in the 1914-1918 conflict and their socio-cultural, visual and literary worlds. More than 1.5 million Indians were recruited. Das draws on a variety of fresh, unusual sources - objects, images, rumours, street-pamphlets, sound recordings, folksongs, testimonies, poetry, essays and fiction - to produce the first major cultural and literary history, moving from recruitment tactics in villages through sepoy traces and feelings in battlefields, hospitals and POW camps to post-war reflections on Europe and the empire. Combining archival excavation across several continents with investigative readings of Gandhi, Kipling, Iqbal, Naidu, Nazrul, Tagore and Anand, this imaginative study opens up the worlds of sepoys and labourers, men and women, nationalists, artists and intellectuals, trying to make sense of home and the world in times of war.
Table of contents:
Introduction; Part I. The Restless Home Front; 1. The imperial-nationalist self: anti-discrimination, aspiration and anxiety; 2. Sonorous fields: recruitment, resistance and recitative in the Punjab; Part II. Race and Representation: 3. Five shades of brown: the sepoy-body in visual culture; 4. Imperial antibiotic: sepoy and the Raj; Part III. The Sepoy Heart: 5. Touching feeling: letters, poems, prayers and songs of sepoys in Europe 1914-18; 6. 'Their lives have become ours': occupation, captivity and lateral contact in Mesopotamia 1914-1918; 7. Transnational lives and peripheral visions; Part IV. Literary and Intellectual Cultures: 8. Literary imaginings; 9. The Indian English war novel: Across the Black Waters; 10. Post-war world and 'the future of mankind': Aurobindo, Iqbal and Tagore.
Santanu Das. educated in Kolkata and Cambridge, is Professor of English Literature at King's College London and joins All Souls College, Oxford as Senior Research Fellow in English in 2019. He is the author of the award-winning monograph Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature (Cambridge, 2006) and the pictorial Indian Troops in Europe, 1914 918 (2014), and the editor of Race, Empire and First World War Writing (Cambridge, 2011) and the Cambridge Companion to the Poetry of the First World War (Cambridge, 2013). He presented the series 'Soldiers of the Empire' for BBC Radio 4 and has been involved in various centennial events around the First World War, from radio and television programmes to exhibitions, concerts, and dance-theatre.