History

History

Issue Articles

The Strange ‘Hindu Murders’ of the US West Coast in the Early 20th Century

In the 1930s, a spate of murders claimed the lives of several Punjabi men in California’s Central Valley region. US police and press were quick to ascribe these killings to mysterious old ‘Oriental’ cults and factional rivalries.

The Politics of Language in Assam

Language has been at the heart of political debate in Assam since the formation of the British colonial province of Assam in 1874, then through the turbulent decades leading to Independence, the separation of Sylhet during Partition, and into our times.

‘Conquering Delhi’

The popular culture of the farmers’ protests
Cultural motifs of the Sikhs' ‘conquest’ of Delhi animate the art and music of the farmers’ movement. Memories of defiance and triumph, juxtaposed with images of the protests, inspire the farmers to go on despite hardships.

Himalayan Histories

The Himalayas have been a zone of global interactions and exchanges over the centuries, quite unlike the stereotype of remoteness and isolation.

Rammohun Roy's ‘Gift'

His first published piece
On the eve of the 250th birth anniversary of Rammohun Roy, a discussion of his 'Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhiddin', a tract written in Persian on the One Universal Truth.

Misreading the Past

The UGC’s New Framework for Indian History
A new undergraduate history curriculum reduces the complexity of the past to simplistic ideas of religious difference. The official promotion of such ahistorical thinking adds weight to the project of misreading the past to fuel divisive passions.

Historical Roots of the Rise of Hindutva in West Bengal

For a century, Hindu organisations have worked amongst Dalits in Bengal to incorporate them into the religious community, while the Left excised the question of caste from its discourse. These legacies have come to the fore as the BJP rises in the state.

The Cultural Unity of the Deccan Plateau, 1347–1687

Between the 14th and 17th centuries, the states of the Deccan drew on the same resources to base their authority -- the memory of the prestigious Chalukyas maharajas of Kalyana, and the prestige associated with Persian language and culture.

The Other Indians of the First World War

The Allied victory in the First World War was won on the back of the labour of non-combatant ‘coolies’, whose deployment allowed for swift mobilisation across fronts. A new book narrates the story of their struggles on the battlefields and of their neglect.

Dharma and Caste in the Mahabharata

Some episodic suggestions
The Mahabharata is peopled by the ‘higher’ castes but there are important personages from the ‘lower’ castes whose presence gives a radical salience to ‘dharma’ as set out in the epic, to the point of even suggesting a subversion of the dominant ideology.

The Promise of India: Recalling Dadabhai Naoroji

A new biography brings to the fore Dadabhai Naoroji’s activities in India and England for self-rule and his early socialist and anti-racist thought. It places the ‘Father of Indian Nationalism’ among the leading non-European thinkers and reformers of the time.

In the Name of the Nation

Nietzsche’s Abyss Staring Back?
Sanjib Baruah's new book is 'a prescient ledger' of what Northeast India has become and at the same time 'a cautionary tale' of where muscular policy may take us in the rest of India.

The Crisis of Citizenship in Assam

Autonomy and social justice are often in a tense relationship in Assam. While the demands for autonomy reflect the desire for territorial control over land, demands for social justice reflect an insistence on citizenship and equality under constitutional law.

India's Gift to the Struggle against Apartheid

ES Reddy – whose ideals were forged in India’s fight for freedom – went beyond the confines of nationalism to embrace the anti-apartheid struggle. His commitment to solidarity & justice across borders is a lesson at a time when societies are turning insular.

A Prehistory of Religious Modernity

A comparative study of the Brahmo Samaj and the Swaminarayanis, two sects seen as polar opposites, raises questions on both the superiority of the Hindu reform project during the colonial period and on claims that traditionalist faiths are intolerant.

Remembering The Second World War in North East India

The Second World War is memorialised in the North East through narratives of Allied and Japanese veterans, nationalism, and war tourism. Lost in the process is how the war and issues of post-war compensation shaped the integration of the region into India.

Subverting the System

Reflections on the Fate of Democracies in the 21st Century
The emergence of political leaders the world over with a contempt for the democratic systems they preside over, requires a re-examination of the ideas of democracy & representation. This is a necessary preliminary towards salvaging ‘government by discussion’.

Extreme events in nature: An ecological history of the present

The zoonotic disease Covid-19 is yet another warning shot to humanity. The imbalance throughout history between our ecological footprint and the earth’s biocapacity has grown to a point that it now poses a threat to civilisation. How can we deal with this?

Syncretic Culture of the Brahma Kshatriyas of Hyderabad

A photo essay on the Brahma Kshatriyas of Hyderabad, whose association with the Mughal and the Nizam’s administration produced a unique syncretic culture.

The Architecture of Democracy

Central Vista and a Tale of Three Axes
The imperial Central Vista in Delhi has been transformed since 1947 into a symbol of democratic India. But the proposed redevelopment will reduce public space, highlight the spectacle of government and seems to reflect the authoritarian turn in our democracy.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the 75th Anniversary of ‘Nuclear Peace’

'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds’. Physicist Robert Oppenheimer recalled these lines from the Gita after watching the first nuclear test in July 1945. With the world now sitting on a huge nuclear stockpile, can we hope to avoid that destruction?

Examining the Making of the Constitution

At the dawn of independence, the liberal traditions that underpin a constitutional democracy were absent in India. How did the framers of the Constitution deal with this challenge?

Making Indian Cities Habitable

The Legacy of Patrick Geddes
The social & environmental problems of a rapidly urbanising India were anticipated a century ago by the Scottish town planner Patrick Geddes. It may be time to redeem & rehabilitate Geddes’ themes of respect for nature, democracy & architectural traditions.
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