Initially inspired by Antonio Gramsci's writings on the history of subaltern classes, the Subaltern Studies authors adopted a ""history from below"" paradigm to contest ""elite"" history writing of Indian nationalists. Later the Project shifted away from its social history origins by drawing upon eclectic thinkers such as Edward Said, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. This volume is the first comprehensive balance-sheet of the project, presenting a collection of the most important writing from the last two decades and focusing the key debates between the main scholars in the field. The collection begins with the original manifesto of the Subaltern Studies project, by Ranajit Guha. In the following contributions Partha Catterjee and David Arnold, two of the founding members of the Subaltern Studies collective, examine concepts from Marx to Gramsci embedded in the writing of Indian peasant history. Critiques of the Subaltern project from C. A. Bayly, Rajnarayan Chandavarka, Rosalind O'Hanlon and Tom Brass set the terms for the controversies around which the book is organized.
Marxist and deconstructionist tendencies cross and clash in the exchange between O'Hanlon, David Washbrook and the Subalternist Gyan Prakash. Sumit Sarkar charts the contemporary direction of Subaltern Studies in its movement away from a set of Marxist concerns, and Dipesh Chakrabarty and Gyanendra Pandey respond with a spirited defence of these new directions, criticizing not only Marxism but the whole idea of history as Eurocentric. The volume concludes with an interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak on the future of the Subaltern Studies project and its vexed relationship with Marxism and Feminism