Illustration: Paul Aitchison
Illustration: Paul Aitchison

Archives of Southasia

A series of articles on the state of archiving in Southasia.

In 2014, we marked the reissue of our first quarterly issue 'Are We Sure About India?' – which asked whether India the nation-state can ever hope to represent the civilisational values of historical 'India' – by publishing online a series of articles on Southasia's archives. A project pursued jointly with our sister organization the Hri Institute for Southasian Research and Exchange, 'Archives of Southasia' had featured in the initial print-run of the issue. At the time, Hri Director Laxmi Murthy explained:

"In Southasia today, the immense importance of both social and historical archives for the overall advancement of society is yet to be recognised. The 'Archives of Southasia' series is aimed at creating a better understanding of regional history and the state of the archives that sustain it, and at highlighting the importance of preserving and linking the Subcontinent's existing archives and collections. Indeed, such work is vital if we are to continue exploring critical sociopolitical questions and challenging complacent historical platitudes, as we have tried to do in this issue with India.

The pieces here, which combine original research with the extensive experience of professional researchers and archivists, came out of Hri's conference entitled 'Archives Southasia: Creating, Curating, Connecting'. This meeting of archivists from across the region – the first of its kind – provided a unique showcase of efforts toward ensuring that archives do not become morgues. Archivists, scholars and collectors from Bangalore, Chennai, Dhaka, Ernakulam, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Lahore, Mumbai, New Delhi and Yangon shared experiences and valuable insights on the possibilities of making archives dynamic spaces where we can not only reconsider history, but also redefine it."




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