Showing posts with the label Perspectives/Essays

Persistence of ‘secular’ histories and their porous narratives

Manu Pillai and Anirudh Kanisetti have been two writers who attempt to present their understanding of India’s past in a style and prose that can fancy more discerning readers bought on popular fiction. While it is doubtful if they present any original research, they certainly lay before a much larger audience, distilled views from more serious academic studies in racy and elegant prose. Otherwise much of social sciences and historical research are transacted in obtuse language that can intimidate and deter many. Yet social science scholarship is very subjective and over the years the conflict paradigm has dominated its practice. This perspective is not without its problems for it imagines an eternally divided world from the past where matters have always worked against the putatively disadvantaged communities at the hands of a propertied minority.  While no doubt hierarchies are obnoxious, we can also see how communities in the past have sought to combat the vileness, the oppression,

For the love and sanctity of India, its history and social sciences…a conservative’s musings

The repeated revisions and pruning of the NCERT history and political studies textbooks under the current regime, has been in news again. History, politics, sociology and the way India’s past, its society and politics are represented rakes up matters among the most erudite of scholars who otherwise would care little for our schools and the sorry curricular transactions that transpire in our classrooms even with most thoughtful of textbooks. This time, several scholars associated with the NCERT’s social sciences textbooks seek removal of their names from them. The narrative of these texts with several deletions, these writers allege, ends with different meanings from what was originally intended. And these changes were done without their consent. They claim the repeated changes are attempts at whitewashing history, rather saffronising them. It is the consequence and one of the many orchestrated charades of Hindutva politics that in excising portions on RSS’s role in Gandhi’s assassinati

My ‘magnum opus…’

  The few who have been following my blog, over the last 15 years, I have shared a lot on history, historiography, its politics and its pedagogies. All these have now been brought together as a book. It was long overdue. It’s a pretty long book and I suppose intense at many levels.  I present a summary here which I muse can also be seen as a précis of all my posts and also the shifts in my evolution as a history teacher and an eternal student of social sciences. I have always been deeply engaged and responding to issues and tumults in all domains of our socialisation in this site.  - - - - - - - - - History, representations of past and its textbooks have remained mired in controversies. Notwithstanding certain nuances and differences, broadly two visions jostle to inform our understanding of history. One is the left and so called liberal version in which India is construed as a modern imagination which was brought to life in the course of the freedom struggle. Second is the Indic view

Compelling but skewed - critiquing an instance of ‘popular’ histories

In recent years one sees certain kind of publications on our past. Written in engaging prose, attempts to resurrect our understanding of history in very fascinating ways is being made where these books might not truly represent new scholarship but they base their works more researched studies by historians with greater academic credentials. And of course they obviously do their key research as well but I’m not sure the extent, depth and scope of their direct engagement with primary sources. In itself, the researched monographs and papers on aspects as varied as state formation, social change, art, architecture, religion etc by more famed historians and scholars are often written in language and prose that can induce somnolence to all, other than those dedicated full time to research and academia. Works of Burton Stein, R Champakalakshmi, Y Subbarayulu…anyone for the afternoon weekend? That’s where works by the likes of Ira Mukhoty, William Dalrymple or Manu Pillai come in. They bring i