The Uses of History

Francesca Orsini

in The Hindi Public Sphere 1920–1940

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780198062202
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081431 | DOI:
The Uses of History

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By the early twentieth century, the framework and features of the nationalist discourse on history had been worked out in Hindi, with orientalist historiography playing a major role. The result was a history of India that evolved into a highly successful rhetoric for political mobilization and contributed to the formation of modern ‘Indian’ identity that was essentially the same as modern ‘Hindu’ identity. Literature and education played a crucial role in disseminating such historical discourse. Since history was meant to inspire a collective sense of pride (or shame), biographies, poems, and ‘historical stories’ were even more effective than actual historical studies. Some critical voices among women and lower castes sometimes used the dominant discourse of Indian history against the grain.

Keywords: Hindi; India; orientalist historiography; identity; literature; education; women; lower caste; poems; biographies

Chapter.  29613 words. 

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