This book is a collection of autobiographical narratives by leading social scientists working across South Asia. It explores the linkages between their personal experiences and academic pursuits and analyzes how personal, political, and professional choices shape knowledge production and affect social transformation.

The narratives revisit long-standing debates on objectivity, subjectivity, self, and other and attempt to collapse the binaries that have informed the social sciences until now. Highlighting the state of research and pedagogy in the social sciences in the region, the book questions the conventional understanding of the task of the social scientist and, in doing so, blurs the distinction between theory, research, pedagogy, and activism.

A unique and compelling contribution, this volume will be indispensable to students and researchers of sociology, anthropology, history, creative writing, education, politics, biography studies, and South Asian studies. It will also be of interest to general readers.

chapter 1|27 pages


ByAchla Pritam Tandon, Gopi Devdutt Tripathy, Rashi Bhargava

part Part I|128 pages

Engagement with disciplinary prisms

chapter 2|11 pages

Meandering through the art of medicine and the science of society

ByImrana Qadeer

chapter 3|11 pages

A ‘self’ embedded in ‘social’

ByGhazala Jamil

chapter 4|17 pages

Forging a practice through autobiographical questioning

ByGayatri Chakravorty Spivak

chapter 5|13 pages

Contours of a discipline

Perseverance, social sciences, and the word

chapter 6|13 pages

Whither svaraj?

ByAnuradha Shah Veeravalli

chapter 7|9 pages

Self, society, and social science knowledge

ByMaitrayee Chaudhuri

chapter 8|21 pages

The fusing of research and teaching

Groovy economics, groovy science 1
ByS. S. Sivakumar

chapter 9|12 pages

Travels through changing times

My search for social relevance
ByGargi Chakravartty

chapter 10|10 pages

Embodied memories

A journey with Ambedkar
ByN. Sukumar

chapter 11|9 pages

Self in the making of partition literature

BySukrita Paul Kumar

part Part II|97 pages

Reflections on disciplinary practices

chapter 12|15 pages

Social and institutional engagements in a periphery

Reflections on a personal journey
ByChandan Kumar Sharma

chapter 13|5 pages

Of tactic and tenacity

Tale of a teacher
ByManosh Chowdhury

chapter 14|12 pages

The (auto)biographical and anthropological

Interplay for teaching and research
ByMohammad Talib

chapter 15|11 pages

My Journey

Unfinished, unending
ByNirmal Kumar

chapter 16|18 pages

Biography and social forces

ByKavita A Sharma

chapter 17|10 pages


On the discomfort of shifting locations as a border-crossing academic
ByNida Kirmani

chapter 18|10 pages

Journeys in history, personal and professional

ByShonaleeka Kaul

chapter 19|14 pages

On teaching sociological theory

ByVinay Kumar Srivastava