The Department of History, University of Hyderabad, organised a workshop on the theme ‘History and Anthropology: Siting Intersections’ on Thursday, 10th August 2023, at the Conference Hall of the School of Social Sciences. The workshop was organised under the aegis of ‘Brokering Mobility’ Project, funded by the Institution of Eminence (IoE) programme at the University of Hyderabad.

Joining the ongoing efforts aimed at de-territorialising the disciplines of History and Anthropology and foregrounding their growing intersections in terms of epistemology, methodology and sources, the workshop brought together a set of studies that strived to overcome bounded disciplinary practices to unravel complex life-worlds.

Setting the tone of the deliberations, Prof. Jyotirmaya Sharma, the Dean of School of Social Sciences, in his opening remarks called for exploring deeper into lack of congruence to break the grounds between disciplines, in a considered effort to celebrate ‘dissimilar similitude’ than scouting for commonalities.

Dr. Jayaseelan Raj from the Department of International Development, King’s College, London, presented his case for historically-informed anthropological research and anthropologically informed history by focussing on the question of caste.  He demonstrated the problems of exclusive reliance on colonial archives as it often missed creative engagement of people with their surroundings as well as ordinary life. He underlined the necessity of Anthropology as a pre-condition for writing history and vice versa, a combination of the so-called field view and text view.

Drawing from his experience of historical and ethnographical research on communal riots in coastal Kerala, Dr. Salah Punathil from the Centre for Regional Studies, University of Hyderabad, reiterated the need for complicating the binary between archive and ethnography. He demonstrated how the archive disclose ethnography when the researcher enters into dialogue with the subjects in the document in an attempt to unearth active voices therein. At the same time, the production of archives involves ethnography, though its organising process is implicated by the dynamics of state, power and hierarchy, he said.

Prof. Bhangya Bhukya from the Department of History, University of Hyderabad using his seminal research on the Lambadas of Hyderabad state, highlighted the importance of community self-narratives to understand their engagement with changing times. These self-technologies are used to navigate transformation into modernity wherein the need to change is stated profoundly as much as the need to preserve certain markers of identity, he argued.

The presentations generated stimulating and insightful discussions with active participation of a keenly listening audience.  Prof. Anindita Mukhopaphyay, the Head of the Department of History, introduced the theme of the workshop and welcomed the speakers and participants, and Dr. V.J. Varghese, the Principal Investigator of the ‘Brokering Mobility’ Project and the coordinator of the workshop, moderated the session.

Contributed by: Mimansa Sharma, Research Scholar, Department of History.