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Conference on Teaching History

2 and 3 May 2019. St Kabir School, Chandigarh

Is it possible to overcome bias and celebrate our common humanity through the shared culture and heritage of the subcontinent?


To register, fill in and submit this form.

Thursday, 2 May 2019


Religion and Region: Romila Thapar [9.30– 11 a.m.]

The overall region of Panjab is defined as those areas that relate to the geography of the five rivers and that have spoken Panjabi or its dialects akin to the main language. An attempt is made to look at the different regions of Panjab in terms of their environmental differences. The question is whether these different regions hosted different religions and if so, then why ? The period covered stops with the emergence of Sikhism since the recent centuries present another set of questions.

Romila Thapar is an Indian historian whose principal area of study is ancient India. Author of several books, including Early India, History and Beyond, The Past as Present, she is currently Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.


11 – 11.30 a.m. Coffee break


A Mughal Ramayana and a Jaina Shahnama: Some thoughts  [11.30 a.m. – 1 p.m.]

B.N. Goswamy – An illustrated talk

B.N. Goswamy distinguished art historian, is Professor Emeritus of Art History at the Panjab University, Chandigarh. His work covers a wide range and is regarded, especially in the area of Indian painting, as having influenced much thinking. He has been the recipient of many honours, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, the Rietberg Award for Outstanding Research in Art History, the Padma Shri (1998) and the Padma Bhushan (2008) from the President of India. Till recently, he held a Tagore National Fellowship for Cultural Research.

ccccProfessor Goswamy has taught, as Visiting Professor, at several universities across the world, among them the Universities of Kiel, Pennsylvania, Heidelberg, California (at Berkeley and Los Angeles), Texas (at Austin), Zurich, and the ETH (Federal University) at Zurich. He has also been responsible for major exhibitions of Indian art at Paris, San Francisco, Zurich, San Diego, New York, Frankfurt, and New Delhi. The two volume study, Masters of Indian Painting: 1100-1900, which he co-edited, served to introduce major exhibitions of the same name at the Museum Rietberg, Zurich and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

ccccAmong his many publications are: Essence of Indian Art (San Francisco, 1986); Wonders of a Golden Age: Painting at the Court of the Great Mughals (with E. Fischer, Zurich, 1987); Pahari Masters: Court Painters of Northern India (with E. Fischer; Zurich, 1992);  Nainsukh of Guler: A great Indian painter from a small hill state (Zurich, 1997); The Spirit of Indian Painting; Close Encounters with 101 Great Works (Penguin, 2014); and Manaku of Guler: Another great Indian Painter from a small Hill State (Zurich and New Delhi 2017).


1 – 2 p.m. Lunch


Learning to live with the past : Krishna Kumar [2 – 3.30 p.m.]

The Partition—the violence that followed it and its living legacy of rival nationalisms, has made a deep and pervasive impact on education in both countries. Looking at Partition differently is necessary for creating interest in studying the longer heritage of South Asia. It will also help the young to learn to live with Partition.

Krishna Kumar is Honorary Professor of Education, Panjab 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.


World Café [3.30 – 5.30 p.m.]

World Café methodology is a simple, effective and flexible format for hosting large group dialogue. Picking on questions and issues that arise from the academic talks of the day, we will use the basic principles of World Café to engage in a deeper interaction and dialogue with the speakers in small groups.


Friday, 3 May 2019


A Division of Hearts, Minds, Properties and . . .  : Urvashi Butalia [9 – 10.30 a.m.]

There’s an iconic picture of Partition that shows a man sitting in a library, his head in his hands, and the table on which he is leaning piled high with books, one lot marked Pakistan and one lot marked India. The migration of millions, the loss of home and country, of relatives and friends, the loot, arson, violence, all of this and more has come to characterise Partition. But there were other aspects of this divide too: how did bank accounts get shifted? What happened to pensions? To currency? To different institutions such as museums, colleges, newspapers and others. In this talk, I will trace the life of a select number of institutions, some old, some new, that were divided or came into being in the immediate aftermath of Partition.

Urvashi Butalia co-founded Kali for Women in 1984 and in 2003 founded Zubaan. With over 35 years of experience in feminist and independent publishing, she has a formidable reputation in the industry in India and abroad. She also has a long involvement in the women’s movement in India, and is a well-known writer, both in academia and in the literary world. She has several works to her credit, key among which is her path-breaking study of Partition, The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India which won the Oral History Book Association Award and the Nikkei Asia Award for Culture. She has also taught publishing for over 20 years and is on the advisory boards of a number of national and international organisations. She has received many awards, among which are the Pandora Award for Women’s Publishing, the French Chevalier des Artes et des Lettres, the Nikkei Asia Award for Culture and the Padma Shri, the highest civilian honour awarded by the Indian government.


10.30 – 10.45 a.m. Coffee break


The Indian Memory ProjectAnusha Yadav [10.45 – 11.45 a.m]

No matter what he or she does, or how long or short they live,
everyone on this planet plays a central role in forming the history of the world’

Anusha Yadav takes us through the The Indian Memory Project, an online, curated, visual and narrative based archive that traces a history and identities of the Indian Subcontinent, via personal photographs and letters. Contextualised with narratives, the photographs and letters (contributed by people all over the world) reveal a powerful and historical palimpsest of a largely undocumented society and sub-continent. The project has learned and suggested new themes to be studied and alternate/parallel ways to tug at our own pasts, formal and informal education, visual cultures and research.  Pioneering an alternate method to document collective memory, the project is now included in national & international University syllabi/references.

Anusha Yadav was born in London, and brought up between UK, USA and Rajasthan in a family that prioritised cultural and intellectual curiosity. An internationally recognised visual archivist, she graduated in Communication Design from NID, Ahmedabad in 1997. Over 22 years, Anusha has enjoyed an eclectic career trajectory as a branding and book designer, photo practitioner, and an archival researcher & conduit of a collective past. In 2010, she founded Indian Memory Project—the multi-award winning and the world’s first visual & narrative based archive.

Anusha Yadav lives and works in Mumbai.


1947 and the Princely States [11.45 a.m. – 1. 30 p.m.]


Kapurthala and Partition : Brig. H.H. Sukhjit Singh and Cynthia Meera Frederick

The historical crossroads which saw India’s transition from British Imperial rule to Independence and a democracy, coincided with the fascinating life of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, the last ruler of the erstwhile Princely State of Kapurthala (1872–1949). His grandson Brigadier H.H. Sukhjit Singh, and Cynthia Meera Frederick, authors of the recently published Prince, Patron and Patriarch: Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala (Roli Books), will discuss the loss of Kapurthala’s tangible and non-tangible heritage and other consequences of Partition after the mass exodus of Kapurthala’s Muslims and the exchange of populations with Western Punjab, the effects of which still reverberate to this day.

Brigadier H.H. Sukhjit Singh, the ninth titular Maharaja of Kapurthala, was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his gallantry whilst commanding the Scinde Horse Regiment in the Indian Army during the 1971 Indo–Pakistan conflict. He rose to the rank of Brigadier and upon retirement, has been active in a number of philanthropic and charitable endeavours associated with education, religion, social welfare, heritage preservation, environmental issues and in the rehabilitation and welfare of retired military personnel.

Cynthia Meera Frederick, Chief Advisor to the Maharaja of Kapurthala, has worked with museums and private collections in the USA and in India. She is now responsible for the preservation of the Kapurthala private archives and is consultant to various production houses, including TV5 France and the BBC. She is engaged in collaborations on several film productions on Maharaja Jagatjit Singh.

Engaging Kashmir’s history beyond the ‘Conflict/Resistance’ paradigm : Idrees Kanth

Kashmir’s contemporary history has been deeply affected by the conflict situation in the region. Of the ways in which the conflict has made its impact felt is how recent histories of Kashmir—academic and non-academic, have been narrativised. These narratives either valorise the sustained ‘resistance’ of Kashmiri people over many centuries of ‘foreign’ rule, or otherwise delegitimise this ‘resistance’ (particularly to the Indian rule in the state) as an aberration at the margins of the local community. This paper will seek to interrogate such easy binaries, and attempt to offer a history of Kashmir that is more engaging and dynamic and yet laced with its own set of contradictions, as all histories are.

Idrees Kanth was born in Kashmir, and has a PhD in Modern South Asian History. He obtained his B.Sc. (Bio-Science) and B.A. (Indian History) at the University of Kashmir. He received his M.Phil. in Modern Indian History in  2009 at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi with a dissertation entitled:  ‘Community, State and History: The Uprising of 1931 and the Emerging Discourse of Rights in Kashmir’. He has previously worked as a researcher with Oxfam on the Violence Amelioration and Mitigation Project (VMAP), and was briefly involved with the Islamic University of Science and Technology, Kashmir. He has also attended summer schools at the universities of Erfurt and Antwerp.


1.30 p.m – 2.15 p.m. Lunch


Reframing the Kashmir Valley in the Classroom: Critical Thinking about Photography [2.15 – 3.45 p.m.]

Workshop by Alisha Sett and Shafat Farooq

The Kashmir Photo Collective has devised three lesson plans for high school teachers using their archival resources and research on the history of photography in Kashmir. In an age of new media, visual literacy becomes essential in the classroom, especially when thinking about how to challenge the dominant representation of marginalized populations in history. In this workshop, we will provide images, background material, and assignments to equip participants with the tools to push students to think critically through photography about Kashmir. By providing multiple viewpoints to experience the conflicted history of the region through a diverse range of perspectives, we hope to provide a space for students to realize the complex entanglement between the representation and politics of the valley.

ccccKashmir Photo Collective (KPC) is an accessible digital resource of endangered photographs and related historical material that preserve, visualize, and diversify histories of the Kashmir Valley. Founded in 2014, KPC has archived numerous private collections with the generous commitment of individuals, families, photo studios, photographers as well as institutions. Our network of artists, scholars, media professionals and educators work individually and collaboratively on projects that take a variety of forms such as scholarship exhibitions and curricula, through which KPC aims to make its work more accessible to the public each year.

Alisha Sett is a writer, curator, and educator. She holds an MA in History of Art, with a specialization in documentary film, photography and video in contemporary art, from the Courtauld Institute of Art and is presently Deputy Course Director for Critical Theory, Aesthetics and Practice at Jnanapravaha Mumbai.

Shafat Farooq is a multimedia journalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir specializing in documenting regions of conflict and areas under strife. He has seven years of experience in journalism and currently works for the BBC as a multimedia producer.

ccccFarooq’s career began as a print journalist working with the English daily newspaper Rising Kashmir (2011-2012), The Kashmir Monitor (2012-2014), and a freelance feature writer and multimedia producer (2014-2016). In 2016, Farooq joined Greater Kashmir TV where he headed the multimedia division and produced numerous video reports and web documentaries for the organization until joining the BBC in 2018.

ccccIn addition to this experience, Farooq has worked as fixer with numerous international news organisations including BBC, Al Jazeera, ABC and TIME (where he has also been a contributor to the magazine). Farooq is an aspiring filmmaker from the region. Over the course of his career, Farooq has covered numerous breaking news events in Kashmir including massive anti-India uprisings and the devastating floods that hit the region in 2014.


Chalo Museum! [3.45 – 5.45 p.m]

with Seema Gera and Medhavi Gandhi

How has the Partition shaped Chandigarh’s Government Museum and Art Gallery’s collection? Why is it crucial for youth to look at art to understand the concept of ‘loss of heritage’? How open are we to engaging with other cultures today? These are some of many explorations we will undertake as we traverse the over 15 centuries of shared history that these galleries house and embody.

Seema Gera is working as Deputy Curator at the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh. She joined the museum in 1999 and was Curatorial Assistant till 2015. Her current responsibilities are managing the antiquities collection and its digital documentation, organizing exhibitions, handling administrative work, running educational programs and coordinating outreach activities. Her educational qualifications include a Masters in Medieval Indian History from Delhi University and another in Museology from National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology, New Delhi.

Medhavi, an award-winning cultural practitioner, has been widely recognised for her innovative approach to public engagement—especially the youth, with Indian art. She has led several arts-based programs, and curated inter-country artist exchanges at Happy Hands Foundation before starting up theheritagelab.in where she brings together her love for museums and arts-education, providing a platform for educators, parents and travellers to explore India’s heritage, art, history and museums. Medhavi also works with schools to promote creative inquiry & multidisciplinary learning while making history engaging for learners.




To register, fill in and submit this form.

Here’s a list of accommodation suggestions by the host school.