I first encountered George Grierson (1851–1941) in the town of Madhubani in north Bihar—not literally, but there is a market, Gileshan Bazaar, named after him. I was learning the Maithili language at the time and carried a photocopy of Grierson's An Introduction to the Maithili Language (1882), which had been gifted to me by my thesis advisor, Walter Hauser. I knew Grierson as a colonial officer in Bihar who had written about Bihari peasants in addition to Maithili.

So it was a connection to Grierson in Bihar that brought me to Javed Majeed's major undertaking—two companion volumes about Grierson's 21-volume Linguistic Survey of India (LSI). In these two meticulously researched and intellectually engaging books—Colonialism and Knowledge and Nation and Region—Majeed shows a critical engagement with the published volumes of the LSI as well as correspondence and other manuscripts related to it. Most interestingly, in reading these volumes, you...

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