Rachna Books turns 40 with release of book on history of Sikkim



Gangtok, 19 May: Rachna Books, the book store at Development Area, entered its fortieth year with an ambitious foray into publishing. For its first title, Rachna Books has aptly chosen a seminal academic book on the history of Sikkim, Dr Saul Mullard’s, “Opening the Hidden Land: State Formation & the Construction of Sikkimese History.” Dr Mullard from the Department of South and Inner Asia, University of Oxford, is currently a Senior Researcher at the Chr Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway. He has authored several publications on the social history of Sikkim on issues ranging from social regulation, compulsory labour, social stratification including issues of ethnicity and social status, migration and the social transformation of Sikkim from obligation labour to wage labour. The book published by Rachna Books is arguably the first monograph on the history of Sikkim, and one in which the author challenges the traditional Sikkimese historiography through rigorous historical enquiry by comparing it to original seventeenth and eighteenth century sources and exposes the contradictions found within traditional narrative traditions. The book highlights not only how and why traditional historiography was developed, but also redefines contemporary knowledge of the history of Sikkimese state formation. The book touches on key themes such as Tibetan understandings of state, kingship and the role of Buddhism in justifying political administration as well as social stratification and the economy of pre-modern Sikkim.