Hindutva Archaeology: The making of fraudulent past in India

Abstract

Since its inception in the early 20th century, Hindutva has revolved its exclusionary politics around the idea of India as the unequivocal terrestrial center of Hindu civilization. This notion was traced by its first ideologues to India’s representation in ancient Sanskritic literary traditions, ranging from the Vedic texts to the later Puranic reinterpretations. This epistemological fusion of geographical boundaries, linguistic identity, material culture, archaeological records, architectural heritage, and artifactual assemblages, with territorial nationalism formed the basis for what I term “Hindutva Archaeology.” ¬†Since the 1950s, archaeologists in India have meticulously sought to manipulate, distort, and intentionally misinterpret archaeological material culture to craft a singular fundamentalist narrative of India. My talk will give a short history and a theoretical overview of this form of archaeology practiced in India, wherein the interpretative framework of its disciplinary discourse is contorted, and the empirical evidential rationality of its practice is disregarded to construct a fraudulent narrative of India’s history.¬† I will particularly delve into the archaeological excavations at Ayodhya and their implications for the preservation of medieval heritage in contemporary India.

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