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History in the Vernacular

Partha Chatterjee (Editor) Raziuddin Aquil (Editor)

Historians of Indian have lately been looking at the place of history in the country, both as an academic discipline and as a mode of public representation of the past. This book explores the status of regional and vernacular histories in relation to academic histories by professional historians. Was there history writing in India before the British? The stock answer to this question is 'no'. Other than the Rajatarangini of Kalhana, no ancient text adequately resembles a historical narrative. The itihasa-purana tradition is largely indistinguishable from mythology. The vamsavali and caritra traditions do not really distinguish between the legendary and the historical. Yet these genres of narrating the past did percolate into India's regional languages, being later complemented by the Persian court chronicles of Islamic rulers, with the latter showing writing practices much closer to European conventions of history writing. Looking closely at vernacular contexts and traditions of historical production, this book questions the assumption that there was no history writing in India before colonialism. It suggests that careful readings reveal distinctly indigenous historical narratives. These narratives may be embedded within non-historical literary genres, such as poems, ballads, and works within the itihasa-purana tradition, but they are marked by discursive signs that allow them to be recognized as historical. Vernacular history traditions in Assam, Bengal, the North-east, Kerala, the Andhra-Tamil region, Maharashtras, and Uttar Pradesh are examined here with fresh archival material and new insights, making this a valuable book for historians, sociologists, an South Asianists.

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About the authors

Partha Chatterjee

Partha Chatterjee, a founding member of 'Subaltern Studies', is a renowned political theorist. His books include A Princely Impostor? The Kumar of Bhawal and the Secret History of ndian Nationalism (Permanent Black and Princeton University Press, 2003). He is Direcetor of the Centre for Studies in Social sciences, Calcutta, and Visiting Profeesor of Anthropology, Columbia University.

Raziuddin Aquil

Raziuddin Aquil is Associate Professor in the Department of History, University of Delhi. He has published widely on religious practices, literary cultures and historical traditions in medieval and early modern India.

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Bibliographic information

Title History in the Vernacular
Format Softcover
Date published: 29.09.2008
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher Permanent Black
Language: English
isbn 8178243016, 9788178243016
length xiv+498p., Tables; 22cm.
Subjects History