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Juned Shaikh – The Afterlife of Confiscation: Engels’ The Origin of the Family in 1930s and 40s India

April 10 @ 12:15 pm - 1:30 pm  |  Humanities 1, Room 210


Gangadhar Adhikari returned to India from Germany in the 1920s with a tranche of books. He had recently completed his PhD in Chemistry in Berlin and had joined the Communist Party of Germany. Upon his return to India in 1928, he joined the Communist Party of India and was jailed in 1929 on charges of a conspiracy to commit treason against the colonial government. His books were impounded and many of them were returned to him upon his release in 1933. The same books were confiscated again in 1935. On the list of books was Friedrich Engels’s The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. This book was returned to him again in 1936 with the assessment that it was a history book, not of instrumental use in political action. The book captured the imagination of some party intellectuals who believed that revolutionizing the family was crucial to a political and social revolution in India. Adhikari’s colleague in the party, Shripad Dange was inspired by it to chart the history of the Indian family. Engels’ categories were imported to make sense of the history of the family in India. This also occasioned a historical materialist reading of Indian epics and families, an engagement with orientalist readings, and evocations of primitive communism in Indian antiquity.

Juned Shaikh is Associate Professor of History at UCSC. He is currently working on a book on Gangadhar Adhikari.

The Center for Cultural Studies hosts a weekly Wednesday colloquium featuring work by faculty and visitors. We gather at 12:00 PM, with presentations beginning at 12:15 PM.

Staff assistance is provided by The Humanities Institute.


April 10
12:15 pm - 1:30 pm


Humanities 1, Room 210
1156 high st
Santa cruz, CA 95060 United States
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