Leela Prasad

Dec 9, 2020

The Audacious Raconteur

Sovereignty and Storytelling in Colonial India

Cornell University Press 2020

Can a subject be sovereign in a hegemony? Can creativity be reined in by forces of empire?

The Audacious Raconteur: Sovereignty and Storytelling in Colonial India (Cornell UP, 2020) argues that even the most hegemonic circumstances cannot suppress "audacious raconteurs": skilled storytellers who fashion narrative spaces that allow themselves to remain sovereign and beyond subjugation. The book tells the stories of four Indian narrators who lived in colonial India: a Goan Catholic ayah, a Telugu lawyer from the Raju community, a Tamil brahmin archaeologist, and a librarian from the medara (basket-weavers) caste. These four Indian narrators, through their vigorous orality, maverick use of photography, literary ventriloquism, and bilingualism, dismantle the ideological bulwark of colonialism—colonial modernity, history, science, and native knowledge.

This book is open access

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