Writing colonial history in post-colonial India
As a strategy of subversion and domination, recodification was deployed by the colonizer and the colonized under colonialism to reach their goals. In either case, the result was a deep impact of the other on the agents involved in recodification. In early nineteenth century, institutionalizing Persian was a product of colonial devaluation of vernacular languages, which recodified Persian as a classical language used for literature administration and law-making.
As rewriting the cultural codes became a way for historiography to display the arguments and discursive models, it combined “useful” adaptations with the question of power, as we also notice in the case of the reform movement, the Arya Samaj. A return to origins of Hindu theories was an attempt by the Aryas to frustrate hegemonic models of colonialism. Recovery in this case led to an image of the Hindu woman that was at the intersection of tradition and modernity.
Can new models replace colonial epistemologies? Can the nation indeed allow redefinitions to include everyone? These are among the questions that Ismat Chugtai's “Lihaaf” brings up. The heterogeneous nature of the nation may challenge patriarchal scripts only to be rewritten in re-positioned scripts that attempt to redefine the nation in dominant voices.
Through the act of recodification, marginal positions intersect with hegemony where both are changed and marginality never takes center stage.
Minority & ethnic groups;
0631: Minority & ethnic groups