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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

January 31, 2006

Written by C.N.

Revisionist India History in the U.S.

The Christian Science Monitor has a very interesting story about about an emerging academic and cultural controversy regarding Asian Indian history — nationalist (some would even call right wing) Hindu groups are trying to literally rewrite textbooks books to more positively reflect on Indian history and cultural achievements:

The foes – who include established historians and Hindu nationalist revisionists – are familiar to each other in India. But America may increasingly become their new battlefield as other US states follow California in rewriting their own textbooks to bone up on Asian history.

At stake, say scholars who include some of the most elite historians on India, may be a truthful picture of one of the world’s emerging powers – one arrived at by academic standards of proof rather than assertions of national or religious pride. . . . Here in India, Hindu nationalists have pushed forcefully for revisionism after what they see as centuries of cultural domination by the British Raj and Muslim Mogul Empire. . . .

This year, as California’s Board of Education commissioned and put up for review textbooks to be used in its 6th-grade classrooms, these two groups came forward with demands for substantial changes. . . . The hottest debate centered on when Indian civilization began, and by whom.

The article goes on to describe that the nationalist Hindu groups want to change textbooks to note that new research suggests that Hinduism (and the foundation of Indian history) actually originated within India, rather than from Aryan groups who migrated into India., although this theory has not been widely accepted by historians.

I’m certainly not an expert on Indian history, but this story should serve as a reminder that “history” is not a static phenomenon. In other words, it is not simply a collection of “facts” that stand by themselves for all eternity. Instead, as this story illustrates, “history” is constantly being modified, renegotiated, and fought over as a tool for political purposes.

And as the saying goes, “The victors get to write history.”


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Revisionist India History in the U.S." Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/01/revisionist-india-history-in-the-us/> ().

Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=201