Revolutionary Pasts : Mangal Pandey to Chandrashekhar Azad
An Online Weekend Course
Aparna Vaidik is a historian of South Asia and Associate Professor of History at Ashoka University, India. She has previously taught at Georgetown University, Washington DC and University of Delhi. She is a recipient of research grants from the British Academy (UK), Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (USA), the Charles Wallace Trust (UK) and Indian Council for Historical Research. Her publications include Waiting for Swaraj: Inner Lives of Indian Revolutionaries (Cambridge University Press, 2021), My Son’s Inheritance: A Secret History of Lynching and Blood Justice in India (Aleph 2020), Imperial Andamans: Colonial Encounter and Island History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), and her Revolutionaries on Trial: Sedition, Betrayal and Martyrdom (Aleph, 2022) is forthcoming.
About The Course
How does a nation remember its past? The nation’s impulse to celebrate, represent and preserve its past is reflected in the many state celebrations, national holidays, museums, monuments, arts, popular cinema and in its textbooks. This course raises some fundamental questions about India’s commemorative history. It examines the memorialisation of Mangal Pandey and Chandrashekhar Azad and the manner in which their lives have been documented and popularized. It addresses questions such as: How and what do we know about them? What elements of their lives are figments of nationalist and popular imagination and why? Using historical and contemporary sources, the course will bring alive the interplay between History and Memory – the way a nation constructs, remembers and, at times, forgets and silences the past. The course is an introduction to the art of historical thinking and it does so by challenging the notion that history is simply a collection of dates and facts about events or boring stories of kings and queens. The practice of history actually fuels and glues our connection to the past in a way that makes us question our own frameworks and singular conceptions of the world.