Author: Vinay Lal
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 019567244-5
There has long been a view that historical thinking was never prized much in India. This study of the politics of history-writing explores the ascendancy of history, offering a nuanced account of who historical thinking, and the discipline of history, began to assume importance in colonial and independent India.
Along with discussions of the role of historians in the dispute over the now-destroyed Babri Masjid and the so-called saffronization of history textbooks, the book also engages with subaltern Studies, and provides insights into iconic debates over Shivaji, Aurangzed, beef-eating, and the relationship between history and masculinity. The final chapter considers Cyberdiasporic Hinduism and offers a critique of new Hindu histories on the Internet. This is not a comprehensive account of history-writing in India over the last two centuries; rather, it is an exploration of the manner in which historical thinking has inserted itself into the public domain, the consequences of history's new-found prominence, the relationship between history and the nation-state, and the particular manner in which history is tethered to a modernist politics of knowledge.
This scholarly but extremely readable study will appeal to students and scholars of post-colonial and cultural studies, historians, and specialists in Indian studies as well as informed general readers interested in the increasingly important question of the role of history in the public domain.
This book does what historians hate doing. It tries to bring history itself within the fold of history, refusing to gulp the discipline's tacit claim that it is outside history and has been vaccinated against all criticisms from outside the profession. Lal reveals history to be another disabling profession, waiting to be freed from its defensive certitudes and, then, goes on to force it to do the unthinkable-to self-reflect.
Introduction: History in the Ascendant mode
The History of Ahistoricity: The Indian Tradition, Colonialism, and the Advent of Historical Thinking
Contours of the Past, Shape of the Future:
The Politics of History in Independent India
History as Holocaust: Ayodhya and the Historians
Subalterns in the Academy: The Hegemony of History
Aryavarta and Silicon Valley: Indian History on the Net in the Age of Cyber Hinduism