The Construction of History and Nationalism in India

Textbooks, Controversies and Politics

By Sylvie Guichard

© 2010 – Routledge

256 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415626217
pub: 2012-03-29
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Hardback: 9780415565066
pub: 2010-06-24
US Dollars$150.00
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About the Book

Most studies on nations and nationalism argue that history, or more precisely a 'common past', is crucial for the process of national identity building. However, the existence of one or more concurrent narratives for the construction of this identity is often not accounted for, and there are cases where the ‘common past’ or a ‘collective memory’ is no longer shared.

This book centres on the construction, elaboration and negotiation of the narratives that have become official history in India. These narratives influence politics and the representation of the nation. Depending on the chosen definition of the nation, over 160 million Muslim Indians are either included or excluded from the nation, and considered as ‘foreigners from inside’. The author shows that beyond the antagonism of two representations of history, two conceptions of the Indian nation – secular and Hindu nationalist – confronted each other during the history textbook controversy between 1998 and 2004. The diverging elements of the two discourses are underlined, and surprising similarities are uncovered. Yet, in contemporary India this convergence remains overshadowed in political debates as the definition of the political has been shaped by the opposition between these two visions of the nation. This book analyzes and questions the conception of the school textbook as a tool of national construction and more generally highlights the complexity of the link between historiography, nation-state and nation-building.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Nation, Religion and History 2. Textbooks, Teachers and Students 3. The Debate in Context 4. Enemies and Defenders 5. Perspectives and Silences 6. General. Conclusion

About the Author

Sylvie Guichard received her PhD from the University of Geneva and Science Po. Paris, France. She is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Legal History at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in South Asian Studies

South Asia, with its burgeoning, ethnically diverse population, soaring economies, and nuclear weapons, is an increasingly important region in the global context. The series, which builds on this complex, dynamic and volatile area, features innovative and original research on the region as a whole or on the countries. Its scope extends to scholarly works drawing on history, politics, development studies, sociology and economics of individual countries from the region as well those that take an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the area as a whole or to a comparison of two or more countries from this region. In terms of theory and method, rather than basing itself on any one orthodoxy, the series draws broadly on the insights germane to area studies, as well as the tool kit of the social sciences in general, emphasizing comparison, the analysis of the structure and processes, and the application of qualitative and quantitative methods. The series welcomes submissions from established authors in the field as well as from young authors who have recently completed their doctoral dissertations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POL000000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / General
SOC008000
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General