While historians have traditionally been less explicit than other social scientists in their use of theory, we have witnessed in the past half year an unprecedentedly polemicized debate within the profession over the direction, methodology, and theoretical orientation future history-writing must take. Book length treatises by Lynn Hunt (Writing History in the Global Era, September 2014), and Jo Guldi and David Armitage (The History Manifesto, July 2014) have been met with enlivened article-length rejoinders by fellow historians (Sam Moyn, Deborah Cohen, Peter Mandler).
If these historians made differing methodological, theoretical and political claims on the task of history-writing, what was emphatically not under debate was the fact that historians now have to “think big” and write global. Bringing together distinguished internal and visiting historians and social scientists, this conference aims to foster a public dialogue on the new directions of writing global histories among some of its most critical practitioners in the discipline of history and beyond.
In an essay written twenty years ago, Gyanendra Pandey spoke of “upper caste racism” as a central feature of the politics of the Hindu upper castes and classes. In this presentation, Prof. Pandey will extend that proposition, and suggest that all racism is upper caste racism. Upper caste, because ruling and dominant groups and classes across the globe believe it is their inherited right to rule and to live in special comfort and prosperity. Racism, because that is a way of keeping subordinated and marginalized groups – sometimes called minorities – “in their place;” and because the assumption of the right to rule, property and ‘culture’ leads to the segregation and subordination of those without privileged access to these, and to their denigration, castigation and even expulsion at times when they are seen as challenging the existing order of caste and race, Black and White.