21-04-2015: History Seminar Series "Times, Pasts and Periods: rethinking history and history-writing" by Prathama Banerjee, CSDS, Delhi


The last of the History Seminar Series for this semester, organized by AUD History students, is the following:

Topic: Times, Pasts and Periods: rethinking history and history-writing Speaker: Prathama Banerjee, CSDS, Delhi Date: 21st April 2015 (Tuesday) Time and venue: 11:00 a.m., CR 5

Abstract: In everyday life, we live in/with time, without giving it much thought. Perhaps that is the only practical way of living, by simply accepting the ‘fact’ of time in its many manifestations, i.e. as watch, calendar, season, news, age, death and so on. And yet, the moment we begin to self-consciously think about it, as any good historian would be compelled to do, it becomes clear that time is a difficult and intractable concept, which has challenged philosophers and sages across ages.

In this discussion, however, I do not explore the fascinating worlds of time-thinking in religion, philosophy and physics Instead, I stay with our common interest in history and history-writing. I propose that new kinds of history-writing (and thus new ways of inhabiting the present) demand that we critique our conventional ways of thinking about time. I set out three sets of ideas about time that we presuppose when we think and write history – namely, chronology, modernity and periodization. I argue that all three of these temporal priniciples have an implicit politics to them and therefore need some serious rethinking.