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Noted historian and JNU teacher Pandian dies

He had earned a reputation in film and history and was also known for his “peculiar” voice on the Dalit question in India.

Historian and professor Mathias Samuel Soundra Pandian passed away at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences on Monday after a cardiac arrest. He was 57.

Professor Pandian had been serving at the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. His research interests included nationalism, Kashmir, caste movements, Tamil cinema and popular culture.

Initially trained as an economist, Professor Pandian earned a reputation in film and history and was also known for his “peculiar” voice on the Dalit question in India.

Before joining JNU, he was an associate professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS) from 1989 — 2009.

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Expressing shock and disbelief at Prof Pandian’s death, his colleague Aditya Mukherjee said, “His passing is a shock. He was a valued colleague and was a very popular teacher. He had been working on Ambedkar and Dalit rights and perception in India.”

An authority on Tamil politics, Prof Pandian has three books to his credit including — Brahmin and Non -Brahmin: Genealogies of the Tamil Political Present and The Image Trap: M G Ramachandran in Films and Politics.

He also penned articles on secularism, caste and identity politics and took a keen interest in subaltern studies.

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“Prof Pandian was a pioneering scholar and wrote extensively on Tamil society, culture and economics. He wrote his first book on the agrarian history of Tamil Nadu. I have known him over decades. His death is untimely and shocking,” researcher and historian Mahesh Rangarajan and the Director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library said.

Colleagues, fellow historians and students gathered at AIIMS to pay their respects as they waited for his family to arrive from Chennai. Prof Pandian is survived by his wife S Anandhi, Associate Professor at MIDS, and a daughter.

Who was M S S Pandian?
Professor Pandian was teaching at the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University
He was also an associate professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies from 1989 – 2009
His research interests included nationalism, Kashmir, caste movements, Tamil cinema and popular culture. He had written articles on secularism and identity politics
He had earned a reputation in film and history and was also known for his “peculiar” voice on the Dalit question in India
An authority on Tamil politics, Prof Pandian has three books to his credit including — Brahmin and Non -Brahmin: Genealogies of the Tamil Political Present and The Image Trap: M G Ramachandran in Films and Politics

First published on: 11-11-2014 at 11:26 IST
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