'It is high time that we move from a “singular voice of history to one that is multivocal” by emphatically asserting footnotes that address the multifarious ways of reading different types of sources in order to seek history through them.' —Aloka Parasher-Sen
Aloka Parasher-Sen's recent book Seeking History Through her Source, South of the Vindhyas (Orient Blackswan, 2022) highlights the centrality of unconventional sources and emphasizes on the particularity of these sources to build a counter narrative that asserts its own individuality so that historical experiences of regions, localities and people are no longer treated in terms of a lack or, found to be totally absent in narratives on the history of India.
History for Peace organised an online workshop conducted by Aloka Parasher-Sen with contributors to the book - V. Rajesh, Aruna Pariti and Sagnik Saha.
The Workshop included interrogating (1) an earlier known source – coin or inscription - which may have been rejected because it was available only in fragments (2) a written or visual source which may have been used earlier only for a particular kind of conventional history; political or monumental in nature (3) literature that had erroneously been used to cite ‘facts’ when in fact it had narratavized perceptions of the past and finally, (4) the problematizing attempts to uplift a story or a poem as a source for the historical past.
The focus here is on history of the Tamil language and literature, a discussion on the place of diaries, autobiographies to examine the literary-historical process and thus move beyond seeing literature merely as a source of history, to look at inscribed coins found in localities that enable us to move beyond the meta political narratives, the reading of different types of inscriptions and their value in writing the history of economic and social issues beyond merely the political and to keenly observe literary perceptions of labour, peasants and environment as found in stories, fictional narratives and prescriptive texts.