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Negotiating Evidence: History, Archaeology and the Indus Civilisation


Following the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992, the discipline of archaeology has been increasingly exploited for meeting the demands of religious nationalism in India, for offering material proof for the primordiality of Hindu dharma, and for substantiating claims that the ‘Vedic Hindu’ had an indigenous origin within the subcontinent. Over the last decade, statements such as ‘new astrological and archaeological evidence has come to light which suggests that the people who composed the Vedas called themselves Aryans and were indigenous to India’ (Prinja 1996: 10), have not only propped up the doctrinaire of Hindutva, but have also acquired an official sanctioning from many within the professional community of Indian archaeologists (e.g. Lal 1998), who are actively involved in a programme of promoting the premise that it is possible to unearth true histories objectively through archaeological means (Gupta 1996: 142).

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I thank Simon Schaffer, Eivind Kahrs and Michael Dodson for their comments on an earlier draft.
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Modern Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0026-749X
  • EISSN: 1469-8099
  • URL: /core/journals/modern-asian-studies
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