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Excursus in History

Essays on Some Ideas of Irfan Habib

Edited by Prabhat Patnaik

Published in association with Social Scientist

April 2011

6.25 x 9.5 inches

(xvi+380) 396 pages

ISBN : 978-81-89487-72-0

INR 560

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This is the first in the series of volumes on 'Modern Indian Thinkers' which are being brought out by Social Scientist and Tulika Books. It is an examination of Professor Irfan Habib’s work in different areas and an attempt to capture the totality of his thought. The 'Modern Indian Thinkers' series seeks to celebrate those who have blazed new trails and produced new ideas outside the beaten track which serve to carry forward India’s social revolution. It is only appropriate that Professor Irfan Habib should be among the first to be celebrated as such a thinker. The essays in this volume are quite heterogeneous: some are in the nature of surveys of particular areas of Professor Habib’s work, some critically examine his positions, some elaborate upon his ideas and some carry his ideas forward. To familiarize the reader with Professor Habib’s overall intellectual project, there is an exhaustive interview with him, in which he dwells upon a whole range of themes: from Mughal India to the freedom struggle to the problems of the Communist movement. And to give brief introductions to his seminal works, there are not only articles by particular authors but also some book reviews that were published at the time his books came out. The fact remains, however, that the essays put together in the present volume only unlock this or that gate to the field of Professor Habib’s writings, and the reader will have to make his or her own way through this field. But it is a journey we would like to invite the reader to undertake.

Prabhat Patnaik

Prabhat Patnaik is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His books include Accumulation and Stability under Capitalism, The Retreat to Unfreedom, The Value of Money and Re-Envisioning Socialism. He has co-authored A Theory of Imperialism and Capital and Imperialism: Theory, History and the Present with Utsa Patnaik.


“Grouped under such broad rubrics as history and historiography, medieval India, and political economy and theory, the articles in the volume are heterogeneous. The range and variety of their themes gives us an idea of his wide academic canvas and his pathbreaking research that has promoted scientific history writing and shaped our understanding of Indian society during the last five decades… the articles in Excursus in History provide excellent critical appraisals of the multifaceted scholarship of Irfan Habib.”

DN Jha, Economic and Political Weekly