ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Historians and Historiography

The many interpretations of the events of 1857 since the 150 years of its occurrence need to be seen in their historiographical context. This explains the narrow religious focus that contemporary observers bestowed on it as well as the nationalist aspirations that were seen to characterise 1857, as historians in the years immediately following independence in 1947 sought to establish. The important presence of 1857 in the creation of an Indian history and identity explains the many "myths" traced to it by various communities and groups, as well as the abiding interest of historians in the various facets of that special event. These are all aspects of 1857 that this special issue seeks to explore.

T he Sepoy Mutiny (from hereon the mutiny) as seen by imperialist officials and writers initially not only challenged colonialism, but also forced it to devise ways of reorienting itself to face a future shrouded with uncertainties and challenges.1 Those who focused on the mutiny theme projected it as the work of a set of discontented sipahis who were unhappy with the introduction, in 1857, of the new Enfield rifle, with its distinct ammunition, which required the bullet to be bitten before loading. Rumours that the grease used on the bullets was either from the fat of cattle or pigs had serious implications. Thus, whereas cows were considered sacred by the Hindus, the Muslims considered pigs to be polluting. This created strong animosities and was located as an attack on Hindu and Muslim religious beliefs.2

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