Call for Study of Regional History - The New Indian Express

Call for Study of Regional History

Published: 29th December 2013 08:38 AM

Last Updated: 29th December 2013 08:38 AM

Historians on Saturday called for encouraging systematic study of regional history so as to have a “sobering effect on the chauvinism” that prevails in the field.

Regional history is essential. Its need arises from the vastness of the Indian sub-continent and its huge linguistic and cultural diversity and varied historical experiences. However, in India it has acquired a pejorative connotation.

There continues to be serious reservations about regional history that is labelled regionalism, said Indu Banga, general president of the 74th Indian History Congress, which went underway at Ravenshaw University here on Saturday.

“A centrist or a majoritarian view of Indian history tends to debunk regional history as anti-national. Regionalism denotes fostering or protecting indigenous culture and seeks to decentralise. The demand for decentralisation in recent times is seen as a threat to the integrity of the Indian State,” she observed and emphasised on systematic regional studies to iron out differences and build consensus among different schools.

Regional history cannot be bypassed as the complex empirical realities in India can only be comprehended better in terms of its constituent parts or regions. Regional approach to history has been institutionalised not only in the form of regional history bodies and conferences but also through courses offered by nearly all Indian universities. More than three quarters of research papers presented at the annual sessions of the IHC relate to aspects of regional and local history, she said.

Inaugurating the IHC, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said  new perspectives and ideas have encouraged historians to study people’s concerns and marginal voices in the context of nationalist politics and popular movements in the colonial period.

“We live in a pluralistic and increasingly interdependent world. An understanding of the history of the world’s many cultures can contribute to fostering mutual respect for each other,” he said.

The three-day Congress attended by over 2000 historians from the country and abroad like Germany and Japan, will see stirring discussions and deliberations on history, sharing of ideas and introduction of new concepts in the field.

The Congress would comprise seven parallel sessions, 1200 presentations, two theme-based symposiums and three special lectures on different aspects of history from the ancient age to the contemporary world, particularly in context of India.

Among others, State Higher Education Minister Badrinarayan Patra, MPs Bhartruhari Mahtab and Pinaki Mishra, IHC secretary Z Jafri, eminent historians Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib, Vice-Chancellor Prof BC Tripathy and organising secretary Chandi Nanda were present.

From Around the Web