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Beyond the Textbook: An Object-based Pedagogical Classroom Resource


Updated: Dec 28, 2021

Video recordings of all the sessions and PPTs used therein are available on request. Please write to us at for the same.


The emphasis on material culture has made a significant intervention in reading history, and this has been particularly influential in understanding the history of the everyday which for the longest time had remained in the footnotes of major texts. Museums are possibly the biggest entry point into this study, a house to objects that are tangible remains of the past. Unfortunately, museums for the most part have been hugely underutilised within the education sector in India, in their potential of drawing students into this discipline, of making history a living breathing record of the past.

In our constant endeavour to explore creative ways of teaching and learning History, we bring to you a series of digital workshops on object based pedagogy.

Focussing on the 1947 partition, this series, by Medhavi Gandhi, looks at objects that are testimony of a shared culture that existed before, during and post the division. Over four sessions she gives us a glimpse of a selection of objects from the State Museum in Chandigarh; the Partition Museum in Amritsar; and draws from the experiences and works of artists and writers of the time to help us recognise the role of different cultures in the subcontinent and their contribution to diversity; and the impact that the migrations of the time had on identities of those who migrated and their descendants.


Session #1

Gandhara: From where Art and Ideas travelled across the World

An introduction to Gandhara, to the shared Buddhist heritage of India and Pakistan and how culture functioned as a vehicle for the spread of ideas. What did the partition of the subcontinent mean for this shared heritage?


Session #2

Pre-Partition India: A Rich, Creative Legacy

Why is the Muraqqa-i-Chughtai considered to be a unique enterprise in painting and printing? What did Ghalib and his poetry have to do with it? What roles do language / script and craft traditions play in shaping identities of successors to a common syncretic heritage?


Session #3

In Art: 20th century India

Drawing Connections

How can students learn to look to art as primary and secondary sources of specific histories? This segment offers students ways to study significant slices of the subcontinent's twentieth century history by exploring and researching art from the same period that has recorded/envisioned these moments.


Session #4

Your History gets in the way of my Memory

Stories of Partition in Contemporary Art

In what ways does the 1947 partition / division continue to be a theme artists talk about in their works? This segment offers ways for students to engage with multiple and conflicting choices artists have made in reacting to the Partition, which in turn can help add nuance and complexity to students' perspectives on the Event.


Some useful resources for the entire Beyond The Textbook resource series:

(Click on ‘Explore’ and pick the object/s of your choice)

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