Bound for Home: Books and Community in a Bihari Qasba

David Boyk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


At the turn of the twentieth century, a group of young men in Desna, a qasba (small town) in Bihar, founded an organisation called the Anjuman Al-Islah. There they shared their books in the name of promoting education and cultivation, which they saw as ‘paramount in life’s every undertaking’ and essential to the defence of qasbati culture. Through sustained collaborative efforts, the Anjuman soon built up an impressive library of Urdu books and periodicals. Where other libraries were assembled at the initiative of aristocratic patrons or government officials, the Al-Islah library relied on the contributions of numerous Desnavis, both those who still lived in the qasba and those whose careers had taken them far away. In turn, the Anjuman and its library nurtured Desnavis’ ties to each other and to their watan, or homeland.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-504
Number of pages12
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 3 2020


  • Bihar
  • Muslims
  • Urdu
  • intellectuals
  • libraries
  • qasbas
  • small towns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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