Godrej Archives



The Challenge of Contemporary History

Dr. Ramachandra Guha


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Date: 19th January 2016

Venue: Visitors’ Centre, CSMVS

Timing: 6.00 pm


Godrej Archives hosted its 11th Annual Lecture on 19th January 2016 at the Visitors’ Centre, CSMVS. Historian Dr. Ramachandra Guha was the distinguished speaker this year, and thrilled the audience with a lively lecture on “The Challenges of Contemporary History”. It was attended by an overwhelming number of people. On this occasion, the collective publication of the last ten Godrej Archives Annual Lectures was released.


About the Speaker

Ramachandra Guha is a historian and biographer based in Bangalore. He has taught at the universities of Yale and Stanford, held the ArnéNaess Chair at the University of Oslo,and has been the Indo-American Community Visiting Professorat the University of California at Berkeley. In the academic year 2011-12 he served as the Philippe Roman Professor of History and International Affairs at the London School of Economics. Guha’s books include a pioneering environmental history, The Unquiet Woods (1989), and a social history of cricket, A Cornerof a Foreign Field (2002).India after Gandhi (2007) was chosen as a book of the year by The Economist, The Washington Post,The Wall Street Journal, and as a book of the decade in The Times of India, The Times of London, and The Hindu. His mostrecent book, Gandhi Before India (2014) was chosen as anotable book of the year by the New York Times. Recipient ofmany prestigious national as well as international awards, Ramachandra Guha was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the Republic of India’s third highest civilian honour, in 2009.


Synopsis of the talk

This lecture explored a paradox; while the Republic of India isarguably the most ambitious political experiment in the modernworld, its complicated and tortuous career has attracted fewserious historians. Indian historians remain obsessed with the colonial period, with the perfidies of the Raj and the ideologicaldebates of nationalisms, while massively neglecting thefascinating, formative, decades that followed the departure of the British in India. The lecture analysed this puzzling neglect,before suggesting ways in which more scholars can start to constructively engage with contemporary history.


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