Selected Subaltern Studies

By Ranajit Guha; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak | Go to book overview

Four Rebels of Eighteen-Fifty-Seven1

GAUTAM BHADRA

History does nothing, it possesses 'no immense wealth', it 'wages no battles'. It is man, real, living man who does all that, who possesses and fights; history is not, as it were a person apart, using man as a means to achieve its own aims, history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims.

Marx & Engels, The Holy Family


I. Introduction

There is a curious complicity between all the principal modes of historiography which have engaged so far in the study of the rebellion of 1857. According to S.B. Chaudhuri, an eminent nationalist historian, 'it was the class of the landed chiefs who led the struggle against the British', for they were 'the natural leaders'. R.C. Majumdar, too, is of the view that taluqdars and zamindars, regarded highly by the mass of the peasantry, were responsible for the 'origin and prolongation of popular revolt'. Eric Stokes, in his otherwise admirable work on the local background of the popular upsurge, has also

____________________
ABBREVIATIONS ACR = Agra Commissioner's Records. BR = Board of Revenue. DG = District Gazetteer of the United Provinces of Agra & Oudb compiled by H. R. Nevill & D. L. Drake-Brockman ( Allahabad, 1909-30). Relevant volumes. F = File No. FSUP = Freedom Struggle in Uttar Pradesb, ed. by S. A.A. Rizvi & M. L. Bhargava, vols. I, II & V. ( Lucknow, 1957-60). JP = Judicial Proceedings, Judicial Department. MCR = Meerut Commissioner's Records, dept. XII. NE = Narrative of Events Regarding the Mutiny of India of 1857-1858 and the Restoration of Authority. 2 vols. ( Calcutta, 1881). NWP = North Western Provinces. PP = Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons, Accounts & Papers, vol. 44, part 4, 1857-58. Proc. = Proceedings No. RD = Revenue Department. UPRA = Uttar Pradesh Regional Archives, Allahabad. UPSA = Uttar Pradesh State Archives, Lucknow. WBSA = West Bengal State Archives, Calcutta.
1
This article is dedicated to Samar Sen. I am grateful to Partha Chatterjee, Ranajit Guha, Gyan Pandey, Bharati Roy and Tapti Roy for their comments and editorial suggestions.

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