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Our History, Their History, Whose History?

Our History, Their History, Whose History?

  • Author: Romila Thapar
  • Publisher: Seagull Books
  • ISBN: 9781803093543
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In this timely volume, historian Romila Thapar delves into the complex world of different types of nationalism and their impact on the interpretations of the past and on the discipline of history itself. History is no mere collection of information and chronology, and its purpose extends well beyond storytelling. Professional historians adhere to an accepted methodology, engaging in critical inquiry and analysis of sources, following social science research procedures. In contrast, untrained individuals present their own idealized versions of the past, driven by political ideologies and particular types of nationalism they might endorse.

Recognizing nationalism as a powerful force which gives rise to various narratives that provide ancestry to communities and shape the direction of societies, the author explores how, in India, two conflicting notions of nationalism have evolved and shaped our idea of the nation. Today, one such nationalistic theory claims the victimization of one religious community by another through centuries of ‘misrule’. Such a claim wilfully ignores ample evidence to the contrary in order to suit a particular political and ideological purpose. Thapar counters such attempts at misrepresentation by citing several historical instances of the nuanced interface and intermingling of cultures as well as by showing how today’s conflicts have their roots in the British colonial construction of India’s history.

Finally, the author addresses the recent controversy surrounding the deletions of sections of Indian history textbooks published by the NCERT, suggesting that the intention is more likely to be the promotion of a particular reading of history that conforms to the ideology of those in power. Engaging and thought-provoking, this book invites readers to question the authenticity of historical narratives touted by one group of nationalists, and explores the clash between professional historians who study the past to understand our inherited present and fabricators who wield history for political gain.

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history / indian / nonfiction / Romila Thapar /