Representations of the Past in Early North India

Societies remember their pasts in diverse ways and their representations take various forms. Among them some reflect historical consciousness, some are historical traditions and some constitute historical writing. Colonial scholarship when considering genres that referred to the past in India, dismissed them as a-historical, barring one-the Rajatarangini. Today, historians generally concede that societies in early times did have some genres that their authors treated as historical. Early India has a range of such.  Analyses of these, and the juxtaposition of such analyses with how historians currently interpret these sources, may be an insightful exercise. The setting out of these genres was attempted in the lecture.

Romila Thapar is Professor Emeritus of History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, having researched and written on early Indian History, and on its historiography, both of current times and of the past. She has been General President of the Indian History Congress and is a Fellow of the British Academy.  She was awarded the prestigious 2008 Kluge Prize (the American Nobel) for Lifetime Achievement in the Study of Humanity.

Her publications include Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas ; A History of India, Vol.I Ancient Indian Social History-Some Interpretations ; From Lineage to State ; Sakuntala : Texts, Readings, Histories Cultural Pasts ; Early India Somanatha ; and The Past Before Us : Historical Traditions of Early North India ; and a book for children, Indian Tales.

Shahid Amin is Professor of History at the University of Delhi.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014, 7 pm
CSDS Seminar Hall