History for Peace Newsletter is out!

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Dear Reader, 
In this newsletter we have for you: Two new teaching/ learning resources drawing upon the series of teacher training workshops held recently:

 For those of you who missed or would like to re-visit them, we have put together a quick recap of the events we have hosted so far in this second quarter: 

 Along with the latest addition to our website: 

Finally, we have for you a curated range of excellent resources from across the web on the pedagogy of history to bring creative ways of engaging with the discipline, the role of museums and art galleries therein, and beyond the discipline in responding to the pandemic year by teachers and students alike in our This & That segment.

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We are delighted to announce the opening of Naveen Kishore’s solo exhibition of photography, ‘The Green Room’. Comprising two series,  ‘Performing the Goddess’ and ‘The Green Room of the Goddess’, the photographs were made in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This is the first time that they are being shown together.
Kishore’s eye is informed by his deep engagement with theatre photography, a genre he has been practicing since beginning to work in theatre production in the early 1970s. He has extensively documented female impersonators from Manipuri, Bengali and Punjabi theatre practices. His interest in street photography comprises the second main thread of his oeuvre.
‘Performing the Goddess’ has an illustrious international exhibition history and is also included in the collection the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, Washington.

From our archives:

Examining Narratives on South Asian Past in Textbooks of Bangladesh

Shreya Ghosh presenting a talk at the International Conference on Teaching History, Calcutta, 30 July-1 August, 2015.

‘The phrase ‘divide and rule’ was not present in Bangladeshi textbooks in the 1980s. It was first found in textbooks that were published in 1996. These were used until very recently—till 2011. But something changed in the 1996 generation of textbooks in Bangladesh in terms of structure. The earlier two textbooks bifurcated the history of the subcontinent in the 19th and the 20th centuries. This bifurcation happened along 1947—of course.
[. . .] This structure of representing history was done away with in the 1996 textbooks. In the 1996 textbooks, the purpose of creating a particular Bengali Muslim identity was central to both pre-1947 and post-1947 history. The Bengali Muslim community seemed to be represented as the core community of Bangladesh. Which means that it did not represent the histories of several other communities, such as the tribals in Northern Bangladesh, the Bihari Muslims—a very marginalized community. The more recent textbooks of 2013 have responded to this critique in a very interesting way, to the fact that histories written earlier were not secular enough, and that more inclusive and secular histories needed to be written. They have therefore added a chapter on tribals of Bangladesh.’ 

—Examining Narratives on South Asian Past in Textbooks of Bangladesh
Read the complete transcript here

Between State Narratives and People’s Memories of 1971

In her efforts to explore the intergenerational memory of the 1947 Partition between India and Pakistan was birthed the idea of working on the 1971 Partition, particularly given the relative sense of disconnectedness and unfamiliarity with Bangladesh and the 1971 war. Little was known about the people with whom Pakistan had shared twenty-four years of history and how differentially Pakistan remembered the 1971 war vis-à-vis Bangladesh. It thus began as a work to understand her own history and unravel those nuances, which now stands as a seminal text in reading the 1971 Partition. Oral histories complemented with textbook analyses, visits to schools and travels to museums and sites memorializing 1971 juxtaposed with state narratives—this study is critical in that it brings out the implications of the 1971 Partition on everyday lives lived through that tumultuous period of extreme violence, and how that has been remembered and forgotten by the ‘three children of Partition’—India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Teaching History Without Political Borders
a talk by acclaimed Bangladesh Liberation War scholar, Afsan Chowdhury

‘Establishment history survives by repeating what has been taught before, and royal histories are replaced by their modern versions, the history of governments and politics.
The 1971 war of independence is our most important political historical event, but we focus mostly on official institutional narratives and not on interactions between society and the war. A very different kind of war is, however, caught in a narrow beam, partly because research on the experience of ordinary people is limited.
Since identities are also political tools, history becomes a complex space where contesting members of the ruling class fight over the right to define: What is history? It is not an academic space but a political one, a legal one and sometimes a violent one. But this conflict also shows how deeply significant history teaching is.
History produces evidence to assist the ruling classes and justify governance decisions. There are regional, national and local interpretations of history, and they all carry political barcodes. The challenge of teaching history today is to reduce political influences and methodological limitations.’

Read the full transcript of the talk here: 

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We promise to keep bringing to you critical and engaging content through the years to come.

71 years ago on 26 November, the Indian Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly, replacing the Government of India Act 1935 and imparting the nascent Indian nation constitutional supremacy. What better occasion to get your young ones introduced to this document if they haven’t been already? Here’s a wonderful reading Gulan and Jayant Kripalani recently put together for us of former Chief Justice Leila Seth’s 𝘞𝘦, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘐𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢 (Puffin, 2010). Listen, re-familiarize, share.