In Conversation with Romila Thapar: A dialogue across generations

Romila Thapar, one of the great historians and public intellectuals of our times, turned 90 on 30 th November 2021. As part of an online event held on 4 th December 2021, we invited three young scholars to discuss her work and what it meant to them. Mohona Chaudhuri commented on the Past Before Us, Nikhil Pandhi worked out a comparison between Thapar’s work and that of the anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot, with a special focus on issues of caste and social inequities, while Suchintan Das focused on the significance of Thapar’s works and ideas as a public intellectual. These presentations, and Romila Thapar’s response to the discussion open up spaces for a dialogue across generations, with shared concerns.

-Kumkum Roy

As we commemorate the life and work of Romila Thapar, Trouillot’s words exemplify for me the core quest of Thapar’s history writing.    
What are the fundamental assumptions that inform Hindutva representations of the past? What might we foreground to change, as Thapar has, the very terms of engagement? What might such a reformulation for our Hindutva present look like?    
This essay is an attempt to ruminate on Romila Thapar’s writings on and as a public intellectual in today’s India. Edward Said’s 1993 Reith Lectures, titled ‘Representations of the Intellectual’ are taken together as a springboard for stimulating a...
These are Romila Thapar's responses to the three papers presented on the occasion of her 90th birthday.
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