The Idea of Culture

3, 4, 5 August 2018

Tentative Programme

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This conference is dedicated to the memory of PeaceWorks friend and patron Kozo Yamamura (1934 – 2017).

At History for Peace we are preoccupied with how History is being taught to our future generation—because history is a way of understanding the world around us. It is also a way of understanding the world in us.

History, unfortunately, is also a way to create tension. Textbooks, Media, Social media, Films, Literature—all of these are vehicles of historical narratives that can be true to transmitting knowledge down generations and at the same time prone to manipulation and misrepresentations.

At this year’s annual History for Peace conference we will explore The idea of culture with Romila Thapar and Audrey Truschke; understand the politics of representation; deconstruct textbooks with textbook writers and participate in hands on pedagogical workshops based on the concept of archives that open up the idea of material evidence used to imagine history.

Day 1:


Opening Address: Naveen Kishore, Managing Trustee, The Seagull Foundation for the Arts

Morning: The Shape of Culture through History- 2nd Millennium A.D

In conversation: Romila Thapar, Audrey Truschke and Kunal Chakrabarti *.


Afternoon: Politics of Representation

The Idea of Culture and Politics of Representation: Cross Border Perspectives: Sudeshna Guha

Sudeshna Guha studied South Asian history and archaeology, and was trained in field archaeology at Deccan College (Pune). After completing her Ph.D. on State formation in the Indus Civilization, she has developed research on visual histories of archaeological practices, photographic collections and their archiving, ethnographies of field work, historiography of Ancient India and the archaeological scholarship, and heritage archaeology and ethics. Her research enquiries comprise changing understanding of evidentiary terrains, constructs of archaeological knowledge and methodologies of material culture studies.

Exploring Connected Histories: Upinder Singh [Yet to confirm]

Upinder Singh is a historian and the head of the History Department at the University of Delhi. She is also the recipient of the inaugural Infosys Prize in the category of Social Sciences.

Countering the Politics of Representation: Questioning is the Answer: Sundar Sarukkai

‘Asking a question as a critical attitude is not to produce certain kinds of answers but to be involved in a particular process of “thinking”.’

Sundar Sarukkai, trained in physics and philosophy, has a PhD from Purdue University, USA. His research interests are in the areas of philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, postmodernism, phenomenology and philosophy of art, drawing upon both Western and Indian traditions.

* Kunal Chakrabarti is yet to confirm.

Day 2:


On ‘Teaching’ Culture: Janaki Nair [Yet to confirm]

Janaki Nair is professor of modern Indian history at the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, India.

Deconstructing Textbooks: Naina Dayal, Bharati Jagannathan and Meenakshi Khanna.

Naina Dayal has done her Ph.D. in Early Indian History from JNU and is now Assistant Professor at St. Stephen’s College where she teaches Ancient History. She was the recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru fellowship.

Bharati Jagannathan is a faculty member of the Department of History, Miranda House. She specializes in Ancient Indian History and is working on religious traditions in early medieval Tamil Nadu.

Meenakshi Khanna teaches at Indraprastha College and has a Ph.D. from JNU. Her area of specialization is medieval India with research interests focusing on Indo-Islamic culture particularly Sufism. She is interested in narrative aspects of Sufi dreams and visions as described in Persian and Urdu sources and in Persian manuscript culture of illustrated translations. She has been involved with writing history textbooks for the SCERT and NCERT; and has drafted courses for the B.A. Honours course at the University of Delhi. This includes a course on cultural history of medieval India for non-history students for which she had prepared an anthology published in 2007.



Understanding Transdiciplinarity: Krishna Kumar

Krishna Kumar is an Honorary Professor of Education at Punjab University. For most of his career, he served the Central Institute of Education, Delhi University. Between 2004 and 2010 he was Director of NCERT. His books include Politics of Education in Colonial India, Prejudice and Pride (a study of history textbooks in India and Pakistan), Battle for Peace, A Pedagogue’s Romance, and Education, Conflict and Peace. A Padma Shri awardee, he also has an Honorary DLitt from the Institute of Education, University of London.

History as peace education: Latika Gupta

Dr Gupta’s expertise is in civic education as she was quite central in the preparation of NCERT’s VI-VIII ‘social and political life’ series. She is continuing Krishna Kumar’s work on peace education at Delhi University’s Department of Education.

Workshop – Mock Historian’s Craft

Day 3:


The Idea of Archives: Abeer Gupta

Abeer will present his research on archives that came out of an IFA grant and explore the traditional and contemporary meaning of ‘archives’ and their possibilities within the classroom.

Abeer Gupta is a filmmaker and anthropologist. An alumnus of the National Institute of Design, India, and Goldsmiths College, University of London, he has directed several short documentary films and has lived in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir and worked with oral histories, material cultures and visual archives of the western Himalayas.

Engaging with Museums – Conflictorium: Avni Sethi

‘We at the Conflictorium believe culture is a very basic need. It is something that comes along with Roti, Kapada, Makaan, Shiksha . . . not after. ‘

Avni Sethi is an interdisciplinary practitioner with her primary concern lying between culture, memory, space and the body. She studied Interdisciplinary Design from the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore and pursued a Masters in Performance Studies at Ambedkar University, Delhi. She conceptualized and designed the Conflictorium. Trained in multiple dance idioms, her performances are largely inspired by syncretic faith traditions as well as sites of contested narratives. She is interested in exploring the relationship between intimate audiences and the performing body.

The City as Archive: Sohail Hashmi

An academic, historian and filmmaker, Sohail Hashmi is well known for his immersive heritage walks that he conducts in and around the capital.

Sohail Hashmi will be speaking on the evolution, across seven centuries and more, of a syncretic tradition of Architecture, and will show through visuals that architecture has no denominational identity and in as much as this is true, the idea of Islamic architecture is a myth.



Oral History as Archiving:

Aanchal Malhotra, Anam Zakaria and Tahmima Anam* in conversation

Aanchal Malhotra is a multidisciplinary artist and oral historian, working with memory and material culture. She received a BFA in Printmaking/Art History from OCAD University, Toronto, where she won the prestigious University Medal for her thesis, Altering Perspectives, which explored the Parallax View and visual deconstruction of a photographic image. She further received a MFA in Studio Art from Concordia University, Montréal, where her thesis, Remnants of a Separation, became the first and only study of the material remains of the Partition of the India in 1947. The research for this seminal work has been collated into a book of narrative non-fiction [with the same title] and published by HarperCollins India.

Anam Zakaria is an author, development professional, psychotherapist and educationist with a special interest in oral histories, identity politics and conflict narratives. Her first book, Footprints of Partition: Narratives of Four Generations of Pakistanis and Indians, explores the shifting inter-generational perceptions of the 1947 Partition through 600 oral histories and won the German Peace Prize 2017. Her second book investigates the impact of the Kashmir conflict in Pakistan Administered Kashmir and will be released by HarperCollins in 2018. Anam is now working on her third book, focused on the 1971 war and the creation of Bangladesh. She has an academic background in International Development from McGill University and has previously worked as a director at The Citizens Archive of Pakistan, collecting oral histories from the Partition generation and religious minorities of Pakistan and connecting thousands of school children in India and Pakistan through a cultural exchange program.

Tahmima Anam is the author of the Bengal Trilogy, which chronicles three generations of the Haque family from the Bangladesh war of independence to the present day. Her debut novel, A Golden Age, was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. It was followed in 2011 by The Good Muslim. ‘Anwar Gets Everything’, published in 2013 by Granta magazine 123 is an excerpt from the final installment of the trilogy, Shipbreaker, which will be published by Canongate in the UK and HarperCollins in the US.

* Tahmima Anam is yet to confirm.

Pedagogy through Archives

‘I hear and I forget, I see and I believe, I do and I understand’—Confucius

Community Engagement – Workshop by Sumona Chakravarty based on Chitpur Local project. [Yet to confirm]

The Kashmir Collective – Workshop conducted by Alisha Sett and Nathaniel Brunt based on the lesson plan they are developing from the Kashmir archives. [Yet to confirm]



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