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Upcoming Event: ITIHASHE HATEKHORI: Pasts, Truths and Contestations in a History Beyond the Academy

The Itihashe Hatekhori series, spearheaded by Dr. Anwesha Sengupta and Dr. Debarati Bagchi, and published by the Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata, is an exceptional series of beginner literature, especially for the teaching of history. Now a series spanning six books, and available in multiple languages – Bengali, English and Assamese, with Marathi in the offing, they take on a variety of themes, from languages and citizenship to partitions and tea gardens. In the words of Dr. Sengupta: “The way history was invoked and misinterpreted repeatedly …, the invocation of history on social media and the rise of a group of ‘historians’ with no disciplinary training who produced linear, celebratory, majoritarian version of India’s past alarmed us. The government’s intervention and meddling with school history textbooks, too, shaped this attempt”. The project, to write primarily vernacular language history books aimed at children, is novel in its attempt to reintroduce complexities and nuances in the study of the past, and to bring to its young readers, a sense of perspective and urgency to the questions of historical truth, subjectivity and suffering. However, all of this is extensively mediated, like in Dr. Sengupta’s statement above, by an environment in which the discipline of history is muddied by its consistent involvement in contemporary political struggles and subject making. We at Voyages into the Past, thus, would like to invite you to a session aimed primarily at history educators and those looking to become educators, to come for a discussion session with series editor Anwesha Sengupta, author Supurna Banerjee and professor Sarbajit Mitra, to take a look at the contradictions and contestations that history education now entails, and how we can work to re-integrate questions of truth, subjecthood and empathy into the discipline. The event will take place on the 28th of February, Wednesday, at the Presidency University campus. Please stay tuned to our social media for the exact venue to be announced.

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