The Santhal family – a essay by Stephen Morton (2008)

Ramkinkar’s Baij's "Santhal Family" (cement and laterite gravel) at Santiniketan photo © Ludwig Pesch
“Santhal Family” by Ramkinkar Baij | Santal customs >>
(cement and laterite gravel)
at Santiniketan >>
Photo © Ludwig Pesch

The Santhal family and the invention of a subaltern counterpublic

Morton, Stephen (2008) The Santhal family and the invention of a subaltern counterpublic. In, Dasgupta, Anshuman, Szewczyk, Monika and Watson, Grant (eds.) Santhal Family: Positions Around an Indian Sculpture. Antwerp, Belgium, Museum Van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerp, 56-61.


With reference to the work of the South Asian Subaltern Studies historians, and to Mahasweta Devi’s short fiction, this essay traces the place of the subaltern as a subject of representation in Ramkinkar’s Baij’s 1937 public sculpture, Santhal Family. By visualising the plight of a subaltern group who have been excluded from the social and political life of the emergent postcolonial nation state in a style that articulates the aesthetic conventions of tribal art and European primitivism, the essay argues that Santhal Family supplements the emancipatory claims of elite nationalism from the historical perspective of the Santal, and gestures towards a subaltern counterpublic that remains to be invented.

Source: The Santhal family and the invention of a subaltern counterpublic – ePrints Soton
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“Society as such has no ulterior purpose. It is an end in itself. It is a spontaneous self- expression of man as a social being. It is natural regulation of human relationships, so that men can develop ideals of life in cooperation with one another.” – Rabindranath Tagore quoted in Santiniketan: Birth of Another Cultural Space by Pulak Dutta (Santiniketan, 2015) p. 42 [from The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol. II, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2004, p. 421]

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