This book provides a concise and lucid outline of the history of Kerala from the earliest period to the present, encompassing even the latest researches. It describes the early historical times that subsume the region as part of Tantilakam; the formation of agrarian settlements; the formation of state, overland and overseas trade; the arrival of the foreign trading companies; the Mysorean invasions; British dominance; the various peasant and reform movements; the impact of the national freedom movement; the Aikya Kerala movement; and the Communist movement, which led to the Communist ministry and the making of modem Kerala.
The narrative is structured in such'a way that the material conditions of production in society are analysed first and the relations, institutions, structures and processes are discussed in this background. The chapters give precedence to the economic and social over the political and cultural aspects of Kerala's history.
Written by two of Kerala's finest historians, this book addresses the need (or a credible and updated account of the history of the region in English. Along with precise and accessible narration, this book also includes various pedagogical features, such as a chronological outline, maps and a table of inscriptions.
Students and scholars of history will find this book invaluable.
Rajan Gurukkal is former Vice-Chancellor, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, and currently, Vice Chairman, Kerala State Higher Education Council, Government of Kerala, Thiruvanantha-puram.
Raghava Varier is Visiting Professor, Malayalam University of Kerala, and former Professor of History and Epigraphy, University of Calicut.
Doing a comprehensive history of Kerala in English has Dbeen a project in our minds ever since the publication of our two-volume Kerala Charithram ('History of Kerala) in Malayalam, which have run into several reprints. There has been sustained pressure on us from students, teachers and the general readership for such a concise history of Kerala. This book is in a way materialisation of that long-standing project. We owe the drive to execute it in the present form to Orient BlackSwan, whose assiduous persuasion and support has been the prime mover. Our volumes in Malayalam could cover the history from the earliest to 1800 CE only. In this volume, we have covered the history almost up to the modern times to cater to the needs of students graduating in history.
The book starts with the prehistory of Kerala that includes the Early Iron Age, and goes on to the early historical and historical times that subsume the region as part of the Tamilakam (Tamil macro region). Subsequent history covering the history of agrarian settlements; formation of the state, initially as overarching provincial chieftaincies and later as independent states in correspondence to agrarian expansion; overland and overseas long-distance trade run by the Arabs, Persians, Jews, Nestorians and Syrian Christians; the arrival of the foreign trading companies; the Mysorean inroads; the British dominance; peasant movements; impact of the national freedom movement; the making of the linguistic state; the Aikya Kerala Movement; the Communist Movement leading to the Communist Ministry; and the making of the modern Kerala are discussed. The book ends up with the summing up of the salient features of contemporary life.
We retain the perspective and methodology that we have followed in our volumes in Malayalam, which insist upon analysing the material processes first and explaining the relations, institutions, structures and processes against their background. Our narrative is, therefore, inherently explanatory with an explicit precedence of the economic and social over the political and cultural aspects of history. Naturally, there is subordination of the dynastic history to the holistic history of the land and people. Due to this perspective and methodological preoccupation, the narrative abstains from describing aspects such as the social, economic, political, cultural, etc. as independent facets.
History is an unmanageably vast domain of knowledge even when we confine it to that of a small landscape like Kerala. It is a bewilderingly complex assortment of facts unless they are sorted out into an order of events. Chronology is the primary device with which we can order events of the past, but that gives us only a catalogue. History is not a catalogue of events. it is not their narration either. Events narrated as stories do not constitute history. Even a descriptive narrative on specialised aspects cannot serve the purpose because history is to enable theoretical comprehension of the whole rather than give an empirical account of a part. History unveils the principles that link parts to the whole. As a field of specialised knowledge, history is an explanation of events in terms of causation and generalisation of intellectual depth. You cannot explain events without a theory that helps identify their causality and sequence. Further, the past is inevitably in fragments and it constrains historians to piece them together. Theory helps historians see whether the fragment turns up as a signifier, so that the signified is known, and enables them to fill the gap between fragments. Sources show the outer manifestations of the process. It is not the description of these surface manifestations which constitutes history, but the historian's interpretation of the process at the bottom. Therefore, there is no history without theory and the only theory of history to comprehend history is historical materialism enunciated by Karl Marx. Accordingly, history is the history of material processes of change in means, forces and relations of production. Several anthropological and sociological theories help you explain the niceties and nuances of the process. Historicising indispensably involves conceptualisation. Similarly, theme selection in historiography depends almost entirely on ideological presupposition. All this makes perspective quite crucial in understanding as well as writing history.
As in the case of the other social sciences, objects of history too are invariably subjective. Historians deal with these subjective objects and generate knowledge that is inevitably subjective. Naturally, the knowledge of history is made up of subjective interpretations by historians. Historians attempt at hypothetico-deductive analyses to make sure that their inferences are compatible to the premises. Nevertheless, objectivity is a mere rhetoric, not only in historiography and the other social sciences, but also in the physical sciences. In historiography, objectivity cannot signify anything more than methodological transparency about the source basis of inferences. What historians logically construct on the basis of theory is their proof and quite often not the empirically given. Such proofs are not out there for anybody to go and pick. Only the theoretically knowledgeable make sense of these proofs.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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