This essay attempts an exploration of the historical and historiographical implications of the interplay of individual, local, “national,” and global forms of memory in the music of Rabindranath Tagore. Produced at a time of crises in the Indian postcolonial subjectivity, this music offers a critique of the Eurocentric discourses of “World-history” and nationalism, by invoking alternative Indian discourses of “Itihāsa” and “samāj”. At the same time, Tagore departs from the contemporary Hindu cultural nationalist revivalist approach of the tradition of North Indian (Hindustani) classical music and subjects it to a creative regenerative endeavor by reconnecting the tradition with its original subaltern roots. Skeptical of several kinds of homogeneous impulses, this music offers an alternative idea of universalism that is as much human as a specific civilizational concept. Tagore's musical program thus offers an aesthetic blueprint of a more inclusive indigenous modernity in the subcontinent.

You do not currently have access to this content.