Author: Yasmin Saikia
Publisher: Permanent Black
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8178241234
This book explores how, during the 1990s, socially and economically marginalized people in Assam sought to produce a past in order to crate for themselves a distinctive identity recognized within contemporary India. It describes how specific groups of Assamese described themselves as Tai-Ahom-a people with a glorious past stretching back to the invasion of what is now Assam by Ahom warriors in the thirteenth century.
Saikia considers the problem of competing identities in India, the significance of place and culture, and the outcome of the memory-building project of the Tai-Ahom. Over her research she lived in several Tai-Ahom villages, speaking with political activists, intellectuals, militant leaders, shamans, and students, and participating in Tai-Ahom religious, social and political events. She read Tai–Ahom sacred texts and scoured the archives in Calcutta, New Delhi, and London; she outlines various narratives relating to the Tai-Ahom-by the British, by the Indian state, and within the texts of the people.
While India’s central regions-the cow belt, Bengal, the Deccan, Tamil Nadu-have been the subject of rich histories in recent times, regions at the periphery such as Assam have not been much written about by sophisticated, analytic historians. By reveling how certain contemporary Assamese have transformed the dead history of Tai-Ahom into living memory, Yasmin Saikia has helped transform our understanding of one of the most hotly dispute sites in modern India.