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The History of History: Politics and Scholarship in Modern India

Vinay Lal (Author)
Synopsis 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 how 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, Aurangzeb, 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.
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About the author

Vinay Lal

Vinay Lal is Associate Professor of History, University of California at Los Angeles. His most recent works are Empire of Knowledge: Culture and Plurality in the Global Economy (Plato Press, 2002), of Cricket, Gandhi, and Guinness: Essays in Indian History and Culture (Seagul Press, 2002) and (edited) Dissenting Knowledge, Open Future: The Multiple Selves and Strange Destinations of Ashis Nandy (Oxford, 2000). He also wrote South Asian Cultural Studies: A Bibliography.

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Bibliographic information

Title The History of History: Politics and Scholarship in Modern India
Author Vinay Lal
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2003
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0195664655
length xii+310p., 23cm.
Subjects History