H-ASIA: Burton Stein (1926-1996) (fwd)

Frank Conlon conlon at u.washington.edu
Thu May 9 17:21:40 UTC 1996

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 9 May 1996 10:20:28 -0700 (PDT)
From: Frank Conlon <conlon at u.washington.edu>
To: H-ASIA at msu.edu
Subject: H-ASIA: Burton Stein (1926-1996)

                           May 9, 1996

Burton Stein (August 1, 1926 - April 26, 1996)
From: Frank F. Conlon <conlon at u.washington.edu>

As reported on H-ASIA on April 26, Burton Stein died in London
from the effects of cancer against which he had been struggling
for several months.  Burt, who was my graduate advisor at the
University of Minnesota, had been residing in London with his
wife, the writer Dorothy Stein since 1983.

When I first met Burt in 1960, he had been teaching for three
years at the University of Minnesota.  He talked very little in
those days about his own education, and it was only later that I
learned a bit of his background.  Born and raised in Chicago, he
served in World War II, returning on the G. I. Bill to commence
study at the old Navy Pier facility that was then the University
of Illinois' Chicago campus.  However Burt never completed a
baccalaureate degree.  He was admitted to the University of
Chicago directly in to a Master of Arts program, completing the
M.A. in 1954, studying with Robert Crane.  Burt then completed a
Ph.D thesis in 1957 on the economic functions of the famous
Tirupati temple in medieval South India.  I know that he had
initially entertained a more conventional study of the economic
functions of the East India Company in early modern Madras, but
research on Ceylon had brought into his sights the complexities
and institutions of pre-modern agrarian economies.

Burt taught at the University of Minnesota from 1957 to 1965 and
at the University of Hawaii from 1966 to 1983.  He held visiting
professorships at the University of California, Berkeley,
University of Washington, University of Chicago, University of
Pennsylvania, Centre for Historical Studies of Jawaharlal Nehru
University.  Upon shifting to London, where he lived within a ten
minute walk of the India Office Library, he became a Professorial
Research Associate of the University of London School of Oriental
and African Studies and a regular participant in a wide range of
seminars and other South Asian scholarly activities.  He did not
stop teaching--a glance at prefaces and acknowledgments of many
books by many authors will find recognition of Burt's incisive
comment.  His seminar at Minneapolis was occasion for asking
fresh questions and proposing new conceptual frames.  I had never
had a professor like Burt.  He treated students as colleagues
with a dry, sometimes cynical wit.  He did not supply answers.
If one were lucky, he might supply a question.  Two decades
before I had ever heard the term "ethnohistory", and when
"subaltern" made one think of Kipling rather than Gramsci, Burt
was pushing us to look at India in its own terms.  And I think we
took it for granted that that was just what happened in seminars.

Burt Stein's scholarly contributions were primarily concerned
with pre-modern and colonial South India.  I recall him in the
early '60's poring over microfilms of inscription collections as
he was evolving his hypothesis concerning the nature of the
"state" in South India.  Burt doubted the reality of the Chola
"empire" as a bureaucratic structure, and proposed a radically
different conception, borrowed from Aidan Southall's studies of
African society, the "segmentary state" which he applied in his
first book, _Peasant, State and Society in Medieval South India_
in 1980.  With retirement, Burt's pace of writing increased
steadily, four more books came forth, and, just prior to his
death, he completed an innovative interpretation of the history
of the entire subcontinent, to be published by Blackwells.  Burt
his colleague at Minnesota Jan Broek first conceived of a
historical atlas of South Asia, and gained the support of Mr.
Charles Leslie Ames in creating a fellowship in South Asian
historical cartography.  The atlas project, under the guidance of
Joseph Schwartzberg commenced in the mid-1960s.  Burt remained
active as an advisor to the project, which finally appeared as _A
Historical Atlas of South Asia_ (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1978) -- a milestone in the study of the subcontinent.

Burt's students and friends around the world mourn the passing so
soon of a man who had taught us so much.  Yet it would be
characteristic of Burt to say, should he reply as he did to me on
more than one occasion, "no, you all taught yourselves."  Burt is
survived by his wife Dorothy Stein and three children from a
former marriage, Sarah, J and G.

Dorothy Stein may be reached at <dstein at sas.ac.uk>   or 37
Pearman Street, London SE1 7RB.

Frank Conlon
University of Washington

What follows is a preliminary bibliography of the significant
works of Burt Stein.  On several items I have been unable to
provide pagination, and I am also not certain that I have
identified all publications produced in the past few years.
However, what appears here may stand as a monument to Burt's
intellectual depth and breadth which will bear witness to the
extraordinarily fruitful and broad-ranging contributions which he
made to our comprehension of the Indian past.

     _Development Problems in Ceylon_ (New York: Institute of
Pacific Relations, 1954) (mimeo) reprinted as a supplement to the
_Ceylon Historical Journal nos. 3 & 4 (1954) pp. 286-330.  [This
was also included in Robert I. Crane, _Aspects of Economic
Development in South Asia_ (New York: Institute of Pacific
Relations, 1954).

     "Economic Functions of a Medieval South Indian Temple,"
_Journal of Asian Studies_ 19 (1960) pp. 163-176.

     "The State, the Temple, and Agricultural Development in
Medieval South India, _Economic Weekly_ (Annual number) (February
4, 1961) pp. 179-187.

     "Indian Economic History: A Bibliographical Essay," (with
Morris David Morris, _Journal of Economic History_ 21 (June,
1961) pp. 179-207.

     "Medieval Coromandal Trade" in _Merchants and Scholars, ed.
by John Parker (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1965)
pp. 49-62.

     "Comment on Bernard S. Cohn paper 'Regions Subjective and
Objective: Their Relation to the Study of Modern Indian History'
pp. 41-47 in _Regions and Regionalism in South Asian Studies: An
Exploratory Study_ ed. Robert I. Crane (Durham, N.C.: Duke
University Program in Comparative Studies on Southern Asia, 1967)

     "Brahman and Peasant in Early south Indian History", _The
Adyar Library Bulletin_ "Dr. V. Raghavan Felicitation Volume" 31-
32 (1967-68) pp. 229-269.

     "Social Mobility and Medieval South Indian Sects", in
_Social Mobility in India_ ed. by James Silverberg, _Comparative
Studies in Society and History, Supplement III_ (1968) pp. 78-95.

     "The Integration of the South Indian Agrarian System" pp.
175-216 in _Social Structure and Land Control in India_ ed. by
Robert E. Frykenberg  (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press,

     "Historical Ecotypes in South Asia: A Preliminary
Statement", _Proceedings of the Second International Conference-
Seminar of Tamil Studies, Madras_ (Madras: International
Association of Tamil Research, 1968).

     "Early Indian Historiography: A Conspiracy Hypothesis",
_Indian Economic and Social History Review_ 6 (March, 1969)  pp.

     "Devi Shrines and Folk Hinduism in Medieval Tamilnadu" in
_Studies in the Language and Culture of South Asia_ eds. Edwin
Gerow and Margery Lang (Seattle: University of Washington Press,

     "The State and the Agrarian Order of Medieval South India: A
Historiographical Critique" in _Essays on South India_ ed. B.
Stein (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1975).

     "Privileged Landholding: The Concept Stretched to Cover the
Case" pp. 67-77 in _Land Tenure and Peasant in South Asia_ ed.
Robert E. Frykenberg (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1977)

     "Temples in Tamilnadu, 1300-1750" _Indian Economic and
Social History Review_ 14 (1977) pp. 11-45 (and "Introduction" to
the volume, pp. 1-9.  [reprinted as a book-see below]

     _South Indian Temples: An Analytical Reconsideration_ ed. B.
Stein (Delhi: Vikas, 1978).

     "All the Kings' _Mana_: Perspectives on Kingship in Medieval
South India" pp. 115-167 in _Kingship and Authority in South
Asia_ ed. John F. Richards (Madison: University of Wisconsin:
South Asian Studies Publications, 1978)

     _Peasant, State and Society in Medieval South India_ (New
Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1980).

     "South India: Some General Considerations of the Region and
its Early History" pp. 14-41; "Vijayanagara c. 1350-1564" pp.
102-124; "The State and the Economy: The South" pp. 203-213 and
"Towns and Cities: The Far South", pp. 452-457 in _The Cambridge
Economic History of India, Vol. 1 eds. Tapan Raychaudhuri and
Irfan Habib (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).

     "Mahanavami: Medieval and Modern Kingly Ritual in South
India" pp. 67-90 in _Essays in Gupta Culture_ ed. Bardwell L.
Smith (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1983).

     _All the Kings' Mana: Papers on Medieval South Indian
History_ (Madras: New Era Publications, 1984).

     "The Problematical 'Kingdom of Vijayanagara' pp.1-4 and
"Vijayanagar and the Transition to Patrimonial Systems" pp. 73-87
in _Vijayanagara: City and Empire: New Currents of Research_ ed.
Anna Libera Dallapiccola.  Vol. 1 (Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag,

     "Politics, Peasants and the Deconstruction of Feudalism in
Medieval India" in _Feudalism and Non-European Societies_ eds T.
J. Byers and Harbans Mukhia  (London: Frank Cass, 1985).

     "Eighteenth Century India: Another View" _Studies in
History_ ns 5 (1985) pp. 1-26.

     "Tamil Nadu" _Encyclopedia of Asian History_ ed. Ainslie
Embree (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988) vol. 4 pp. 60-

     _Thomas Munro: The Origins of the Colonial State and His
Vision of Empire_ (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989).

     _Vijayangara_ Volume I.2 of _The New Cambridge History of
India_ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

     "A Decade of Historical Efflorescence" _South Asia Research_
10 (November 1990) pp. 125-138.

     "The Politicized Temples of southern India" in _The Sacred
Centre as the Focus of Political Interest_ ed. Hans Bakker
_Groningen Oriental Series 6 (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1992).

     _The Making of Agrarian Policy in India, 1770-1900_  ed. B.
Stein in Oxford in India series: _Themes in Agrarian History_
(Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992).

     "Introduction" (with Sanjay Subrahmanyam) to _Institutions
and Economic Change in South Asia_ SOAS Studies on South Asia:
Understandings and Perspectives series (Delhi: Oxford University
Press, forthcoming).

     _A History of India_ (prelim. title) (Oxford: Blackwell,


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