Historical Origins: Insurgency, Nationalism, and Social Theory In the last forty years, scholars have produced countless studies of societies, histories, and cultures ‘from below’ which have dispersed terms, methods, and bits of theory used in Subaltern Studies among countless academic sites. Reflecting this trend, the 1993 edition of The new shorter Oxford English dictionary included ‘history’ for the first time as a context for defining ‘subaltern.’ The word has a long past. In late-medieval English, it applied to vassals and peasants. By 1700, it denoted lower ranks in the military, suggesting peasant origins. By 1800, authors writing ‘from a subaltern perspective’ published novels and histories about military campaigns in India arid America; and G.R. Gleig (1796-1888), who wrote biographies of Robert Clive, Warren Hastings, and Thomas Munro, mastered this genre. The Great War provoked popular accounts of subaltern life in published memoirs and diaries; and soon after the Russian Revolution, Antonio Gramsci (1891—1937) began to weave ideas about subaltern identity into theories of class struggle. Gramsci was not influential in the English-reading world, however, until Raymond Williams promoted his theory in 1977, well after translations of The modern prince (1957) and Prison notebooks (1966) had appeared. By 1982, Gramsci’s ideas were in wide circulation. Ironically, though Gramsci himself was a communist activist whose prison notes were smuggled to Moscow for publication and translation, scholars outside or opposed to communist parties (and to Marxism) have most ardently embraced his English books (as well as those of the Frankfurt School).