The panel explores the reappraisal of mainstream history and the alternative narratives of possible pasts and envisionable futures articulated by minorities, subaltern groups and radical dissenters among dominant communities in the context of liberalization and globalization in contemporary India.
The panel explores how diverse communities imagine their pasts and visualise their futures in the context of liberalisation and globalisation in contemporary India. 'Mainstream' histories have often been critiqued as being hegemonic rationalisations propagated by powerful elites. The 'challengers', on the other hand, attempt to appropriate and subvert such dominant legitimations of power. In India today, challenges to the dominant discourse are posed both by minorities and subaltern communities - including Adivasis and Dalits - who had for long been erased from or marginalised within the 'mainstream' discourse, as well as by dissenting interest groups - religious sects, for instance - within dominant communities themselves. Politically conscious sections among marginalised communities are engaged in constructing their own histories, leading to a reappraisal of mainstream history and its distinct methodology. Conversely, this exercise can also reinforce the canonical narratives and hegemonic versions of the past which these groups had sought to challenge in the first place. Moreover, since the roots of these two processes - that of normalisation of the mainstream through the tropes of nation-building and development, and its contestation by those marginalised - are interlinked, a search for alternative histories needs to interrogate the presumed normalcy of the 'mainstream'. Emphasising the link between history and development, the panel further explores the possibility of alternate models of dialogic and counter-hegemonic futures linked to new reconstructions of the past.