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

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Marginality and Historiography

The Case of Kashmir’s History

Keeping Kashmir's history at the centre of debate, this article makes a brief survey of some of the popular history textbooks of modern India. Arguing that modern Indian historiography has been replete with various "silences" when it comes to writing Kashmir history, it tries to look for the reasons for such "silences." From distortions/silencing of facts to management of archives and sources of history writings, it then shows the way in which history writing is controlled in modern India. Looking for the reasons of such distortion/silences, the article argues that Indian historiography of the 19th and 20th centuries has remained confined to the twin pillars of Indian nationalism/national movement and anti-colonial struggle, and, thus, all other struggles that remain outside this dual framework are, more often than not, ignored. The article further states that the problem of history writing increases manifold when one is thinking and talking of writing history of various conflicts zones, like Kashmir, where nationalism slips into jingoism and history becomes the most important site for playing "national politics."

A slightly different and shorter form of this paper was presented by Amit Kumar at an international conference, “Diversity, Margins and Dialogue: Local, National and Translational Cultures,” held at University of Pune from 2 to 4 February 2014. We are particularly grateful to the anonymous referees of EPW for their observations and insightful criticisms. To Charu Gupta and the late M S S Pandian, who have gone through different versions of this paper, we owe much more than a mere thanks. We thank Nawaz Qul Qanungo and Justin Matthew for their insightful comments on this paper. Arpita Chakraborty remains a source of strength, encouragement and intellectual insights. This paper is hers as much as it is ours.

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