by Romila Thapar
Seagull Books, 2023
eISBN: 978-1-80309-355-0 | Cloth: 978-1-80309-354-3

An overview of nationalism and its impact on the study of history from one of India’s most prominent historians.
In this timely book, historian Romila Thapar delves into the complex world of nationalism and its impact on the interpretations of the past and on the discipline of history itself. History, she expounds, is no mere collection of information and chronology, and its purpose extends well beyond storytelling.
Recognizing nationalism as a powerful force that gives rise to various narratives that provide ancestry to communities and shape the direction of societies, Thapar explores how, in India, two conflicting notions of nationalism have evolved and shaped the idea of the nation. Today, one such nationalistic theory claims the victimization of one religious community by another through centuries of “misrule.” Such a claim willfully ignores ample evidence to the contrary to suit a particular political and ideological purpose. Thapar counters such attempts at misrepresentation by citing several historical instances of the nuanced interface and intermingling of cultures, as well as by showing how today’s conflicts have their roots in the British colonial construction of India’s history. She also addresses the recent controversy surrounding the deletions of sections of Indian history textbooks published by NCERT, the Indian educational council, and suggests that the intention is more likely to be the promotion of a particular reading of history that conforms to the ideology of those in power.
Engaging and thought-provoking, Our History, Their History, Whose History? invites readers to question the authenticity of historical narratives touted by one group of nationalists, and it explores the clash between professional historians who study the past to understand our inherited present and fabricators who wield history for political gain.

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