The first definitive book that discusses and debates Assam’s complex and troubled history of the second half of the twentieth century.
It is for anyone who is interested in understanding the history of India, Asia or world in the twentieth century.
Definitive, comprehensive and unputdownable, The Quest for Modern Assam, written by Arupjyoti Saikia explores the interconnected layers of political, environmental, economic and cultural processes that shaped the development of Assam since the 1940s. A professor of history at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, he offers an authoritative account that sets new standards in the writing of regional political history.
The crucial battles of World War II fought in India’s north-east-followed soon after by Independence and Partition-had a critical impact on the making of modern Assam. In the three decades following 1947, the state of Assam underwent massive political turmoil, geographical instability, and social and demographic upheaval, among others. Later, the truncated state suffered widespread unrest as various groups believed their cultural identity and political leverage were under threat. New social energies and political forces were unleashed and came to the fore.
Arupjyoti Saikia held the Agrarian Studies Programme Fellowship at Yale University and visiting fellow positions at Cambridge University and School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Saikia is the author of Forests and Ecological History of Assam, 1826-2000 (OUP, 2011), A Century of Protests: Peasant Politics in Assam since 1900 (Rutledge, 2014) and The Unquiet River: An Environmental History of the Brahmaputra (OUP, 2019). His A Century of Protests won the Srikant Dutt book prize awarded by the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, in 2015. The Unquiet River was shortlisted for Kamala Devi Chattopadhayay Book Award in 2020 and long listed for Atta Galatta-Bangalore Literature Festival Book Prize in 2020 and got ‘Honorable Mention’ for Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize in 2021 given by the Association of Asian Studies.
The Quest for Modern Assam will be available in hardback in end of August.—Ramachandra Guha, historian “
It has received some stellar advance praise already. Few of them are listed as below:
‘A model work of historical scholarship’
‘[An] instant classic’—Willem van Schendel, Professor of History, University of Amsterdam and International Institute of Social History, the Netherlands”
‘This is that rare work … A book not to be missed’—Mahesh Rangarajan, Professor of Environmental Studies and History, Ashoka University”
‘The most well-researched comprehensive history of contemporary Assam ever written—Partha Chatterjee, Professor Emeritus, Columbia University
‘An exemplary study of how much we gain when we study nations not from their heartlands but from their edges and borders’—Sunil Amrith, Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History, Yale University