Looking for Panelists for Madison South Asia Conference (October 2022). Panel Title, " Rethinking Colonial Archive."

Dharitri Bhattacharjee Discussion

Many scholars have argued that the earliest colonial rulers kept detailed records as a matter of life and death. While some were preserved, some were burned down. Evidence of imperial violence was destroyed as is clear from the works of Ian Cobain. The arc of problematizing the archive is long. Historians like Antoinette Burton have argued that British Library’s India Office was not just a repository of colonial records but whispering galleries of land mines and crime scenes. Nicholas Dirks argued that colonial archive symbolizes everything wrong with state archives, the imbalances, their silences intertwined with their claims of objectivity. On archival practices, Mary Douglas reminds us of “social order operating on individual minds.” In recent years, Dan Hicks and Claire Wintle have articulated the need and methodology for decolonizing museums and archives. A “sustained unlearning” as Priyamvada Gopal puts it is important. Priya Satia has placed responsibility on historians for perpetuating many myths in history. How can rethinking the archive help the discipline of history and take it forward ? This is the central goal of this panel. This panel will explore a variety of perspectives related to knowledge production within the British Indian Empire, which will demonstrate how the British controlled the land, the aspirational outlook, limitations and also their moment of decolonization. In “Provincial Institutions and the Indian Imagination: Patna in the early 20 th Century” Aryendra Chakravartty looks at language and archive and engages with the works of Lisa Mitchell and Farana Mir. In “Archive as a moment in history: Centre of Oriental Culture, 1942 -1947” Dharitri Bhattacharjee looks at archive as an ideascape for decolonization. She engages with Michel-Ralph Trouillot, Todd Shepard and Laura Ann Stoler, thinking about a methodology that incorporates both reading along and against the grain. In “Anandibai Joshi, Gurubai Karmakar, and Clara Swain: Education, empire, and women’s rights in Colonial India,” Nilanjana Paul offers ways to rethink limitations in missionaries’ accounts.

We are looking for a few more scholars who have similar questions and interests that frame their work. Ideally, twentieth century colonial India.

Please send abstracts and a biography/introductory link by 1st April ideally. No later than  2nd April.  Thank You !! 

Email : Nilanjana Paul <nilanjana.paul@utrgv.edu>