Reconstructing the Past
Susmita Basu Majumdar
READINGS IN EARLY INDIAN HISTORY by Romila Thapar Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2014, 560 pp., 650
January 2014, volume 38, No 1

Romila Thapar’s book is a compilation of sixteen essays most carefully chosen, almost like selecting the best of pearls to be strung. A collection of essays on history would definitely open up with issues in historiography and so does the first section incorporating three essays. The first one, ‘Decolonizing the Past’, is an attempt to portray the changing perspective of historians and trends in historiography. Reconstruction of our past which began with two opposed perspectives—the colonial and the nationalist—obviously become the starting point of discussion. Impetus for writing a different history came from writings outside the discipline; while searching the reasons for impoverishment of the country, Dadabhai Naoroji’s work ignited a debate centering the colonial economy and impoverishment issue.

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