Society for Advancing the History of South Asia 2
Divya Cherian, Princeton University
Sumit Guha, University of Texas at Austin
Ramya Sreenivasan, University of Pennsylvania
Similar patterns may be seen beyond the shores of North America. In India, for example, the cracks in the Nehruvian consensus that shook the body politic in the late sixties and seventies were registered historiographically in the 1980s with the rise of subaltern studies and post-colonial perspectives. The post-truth (or “post-foundational”) commitments that informed historical discourse in India in the 1990s and early 2000s were paralleled by and, some would argue, inadvertently gave intellectual cover to the rise of religious nationalism, culminating in the landslide parliamentary election victory of Narendra Modi and the BJP in 2014. If there are differences, they are (first) that the state exercises far greater control over academic resources in India than in north America, and (second) that there are far fewer intellectuals on the political right in India—or such is the conventional wisdom.
Gathered to discuss these and related developments are a group of historians of South Asia ranging across generations, fields, regions, and periods. The occasion is marked by the publication of Sumit Guha’s timely book, The Social Frame of Historical Memory: South Asian Practices in Global Context, c.1200-2000 (University of Washington, 2019), which examines the social dynamics of history writing in what Dipesh Chakrabarty (in his 2015 book, The Calling of History: Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth [University of Chicago Press, 2015]) called the ever-fragile “cloister” of the academy.