The need for viewing History through the prism of research has become imperative to eliminate possibilities for false propaganda, the Chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), S. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya said on Monday.
Since research qualification was now a necessity for teaching, a critical analysis of History was essential; assumptions and distortions due to political influence can be prevented. Liberate yourself from myths and dubious interpretations by divisive forces. Historians ought to be aware of the consequences of such interpretations to the nation, Prof. Bhattacharya told participants at the inaugural of a training course on ‘Historiography and Research Methodology’ organised by the Department of History, Bharathidasan University, with ICHR funding.
Urging historians to determine the validity of the documents they rely on, the ICHR Chairman explained that the closeness of the authors of the written documents to the time and happenings must be taken cognisance of in order to rule out bias.
On freedom struggle, he emphasised on the idea of unity in diversity as a big element in understanding of History. Prof. Bhattacharya exuded confidence that the training will orient Historians to the methodology of writing History, by providing ideas on the ways of finding evidences and on what to look for. He released the ICHR study material on the occasion.
Receiving the first copy, the Vice-Chancellor M. Ponnavaikko, who presided over, spelt the need for integrating modern tools for History research. Terming History as a Science full of facts, he emphasised that Historians must be fact-finders. Their findings and inferences must be supported by facts and evidences, he said, advocating establishment of facts based on archaeological evidences. He urged historians to come out with a complete perspective of mankind right from the Lemurian civilization, utilising remote sensing technology.
The Workshop Coordinator and the Department Head N. Rajendran said History writing, an ancient craft with Euro-centric conditioning, was a science warranting a definite methodology. The workshop will provide orientation on traditional post-structuralist and post-modernist approaches, Dr. Rajendran said.
The panellists include eminent historians drawn from ICHR, Aligarh Muslim University, and Central University, Hyderabad. The 40 participants comprise lecturers, research scholars and students.
Factoring in instances of uninformed public debates due to distortions of history caused by ignorance about the methodology of writing, the three-week workshop addresses vital focus areas including the method underlying the construction of history; identifying differences in narrative styles; sources of knowledge about the past and exploring possibilities for arriving at the truth; understanding the differences in the approach of history in different social and cultural formations; and the change in approach from antiquity to modern times.