My project addresses the historiography of India as a part of the social and intellectual history of the times. It deals with conditions of production and reproduction of historiographical paradigms, assumptions and models, including institutional arrangements, financial constraints, academic relationships, and the sometimes implicit and often explicit political pressures, both internal to India and external, brought to bear upon the writing of history. An analysis of the thematic, polemical, and conceptual content of this historiography is an important lens for the study of politics and society.
The project examines academic and extra-academic pressures brought to bear upon the writing of history, and the importance of history to debates in the public domain, which in South Asia have been particularly hard-contested in the past thirty years, as history and historians have been mobilised in often directly instrumental fashion to justify or invent versions of a suitable ‘nation’, or to create rationalisations for the exclusion or denigration of particular groups. This has involved the use of sometimes quite crude teleologies, implicit or explicit, drawing lines from past to present; and narratives of nation, caste, class, community or religion can be seen at work in the field of history-writing even for times, places and themes that do not obviously lend themselves to these narratives.