Video | “The past is very delicate”: Prof. Romila Thapar on narratives about the distant past

Prof. Romila Thapar, during an Interactive Workshop chaired by Prof. Rustom Bharucha, highlights the dangers arising from misrepresenting ‘narratives’ as ‘history’.

Every society had narratives about its past and some regarded them as history as time went on […] The one thing you must remember about the past is that it is very delicate in terms of what present politics can do to it. […] And it is usually the oldest period when you have very little evidence, it is difficult to check the evidence […] So your fantasy runs wild, you can concoct a utopia exactly as you want.”

Romila Thapar (Emeritus Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University), during an interactive workshop on 22 August 2013 responding to a participant’s question: “Is there also the risk of creating fake history through the invention of tradition?” [1h41m55s]: https://youtu.be/QZU0G0P3Elw?t=1h41m55s

Sociology Seminar Series is an academic program of the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, South Asian University (New Delhi, India), to bring about fusion of intellectual horizons in hermeneutic sense and sustained academic culture of debate and deliberation. As part of this program, scholars of all rank and file, from across disciplinary orientations, present their research papers/lectures for an audience which subsumes scholars from South Asian University as well as from other Delhi-based academic institutions. Beginning in June 2011, structured in bipartite division as per two semesters in each academic year, the program has been successful in creating a vibrant intellectual kinship within and beyond South Asia. It aims at generating conducive intellectual controversies and charting ideational paths for innovations in academic imagination.

Source: sau sociologyseminar – YouTube
Published on Sep 30, 2013
An Interactive Workshop with Prof. Romila Thapar
Address: https://youtu.be/QZU0G0P3Elw
Date Visited: 5 August 2020

The pageant of Indian history is the grandest that the history of any country can offer. The history of India began when man first appeared on the globe. Since then, the Indian people alone of the peoples of the various countries of the earth have been progressing without interruption in handicraft, physical sciences applied to manual industries, art work on wood, stone and ivory, social amelioration and religious experience. The civilization of India alone has progressed for countless millenniums without being prematurely choked out of existence by the desiccation of the soil or the drying up of the nobler springs of human action, by the spread of malaria or the moral decadence of the people. It is true that the progress of culture in India, though continuous, was not uniform. It did not proceed in a straight line, but in undulations like the waves of the sea. Sometimes the crest of the wave of progress was tall; at other times the trough between two waves was very broad but there has been always progress and never retrogression.

Source: Introduction to The Stone Age in India by P.T. Srinivasa Ayyangar (S. Subrahmanya Ayyar Lecture, 10 December 1925), Government Press Madras, 1926
URL: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/38147053

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