JU organizes in-house lecture

JAMMU: The forth in-house lecture was organized today by the Department of History, University of Jammu. The lecture was delivered by Prof. Bhairavi Prasad Shahu, an imminent historian, who teaches at the history department of History, University of Delhi. He spoke on the "Writings of Region History and Beyond".

In his lecture, Prof. Shahu traced the trajectories of how the process of writing regional history started in India. In this context he spoke about the initial accumulation of collection of sources by the colonial historians which became a tool in the hand of the initial nationalist historians to write regional history.

Thus the regional histories emerged in the early part of the 20th century in regions like Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

However, in the beginning, the regions were perceived as microcosms of the nation and the historical narrative which were then produced mainly consisted of glorification of local rulers , attempt to push the antiquity of the socio-economic institution and the glorification of regional art, culture and often literature.

This competing claims of privileging one region over the other are best manifested in the regional histories of India's contact with South Asia.

These were some of the dominant features of regional histories in its initial phase which continued in some form or other till post independent period. It was only after the formulation of the concept of Indian feudalism by R. S. Sharma that a fresh conceptualization of region as spatial unit of analysis in history began. Around the same time exciting developments took place in the sister disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology and geography, which soon found resonance in the historians' craft.

The socio-political processes, evolution of the structures of institutions and the trajectory of developments across regions started attracting the notice of historians in the context of defining the region.

In this context Prof. Sahu also pointed out how the seminar works of B.D.Chattopadhyaya brought the region and the process of its formation in the centre stage of historical discourse.

He also highlighted the fact that writing regional history is not antithesis of national history. On the contrary given the uneven trajectories of historical developments in our country, on the contrary, it is the results of regional histories put together that brings out the picture of national history in its proper perspective.

Earlier, Prof. Shyam Narayan Lal, Head of the Department of history, introduced the speaker. He began by highlighting the academic contribution that has been made by Prof. B.P.Sahu. He also went on to touch upon the importance of the theme.

In this context he pointed out that both region and regionalism is a very poorly defined and understood term in the historical literature. In part, this reflects the strong presence of methodological nationalism that dominated historical writing since the 19th century in which the nation was often the unspoken frame of reference for whichever topic was being explored.

He then pointed out that much development has taken place since then and there is a need for us to redefine the region and also revisit the core concept of how regional histories have been written.

The lecture was attended by the members of the academic fraternity of the university and the research students who also participated in the question answer session. The vote of thanks was delivered by Dr. Anu Mankotia of the History Department.

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