Nilim Dutta’s Blogs
Nilim Dutta’s writings, almost always seamlessly interdisciplinary, are spread across several thematically conceived blogs, the introductions and links to which are given below. Besides those are also his photoblog and the one on his sketches, paintings and writings from poignant personal ‘lived’ experiences.
Reviving Forgotten Histories
Existing accounts of South and Southeast Asian history still remain substantially incomplete in numerous aspects. While histories of many regions and peoples still remain unexplored, accounts of many others remain overwhelmingly marginalized and unrepresented in the prevalent dominant discourses. It is therefore an imperative to work towards a newer, more comprehensive and inclusive discourse, one in which unexplored themes are identified, studied, analyzed and interpreted using conceptual frameworks and technological tools hitherto unavailable, while the ones that have been studied and explained are re-explored and re-examined within the context of emerging paradigms of historiography and social sciences.
Reviving Forgotten Histories is a panoramic new programme of the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation to re-explore and re-construct South and Southeast Asian history within an enormous sweep of time and space, spanning from prehistoric times till the present, integrating facts and knowledge acquired from a host of relevant disciplines ranging from archaeology to folkloristics, from anthropology to environmental and geological sciences, from linguistics to physical geography, and masterfully weaving them together to construct far more substantive and richly textured narratives.
The preparatory phase of this enormous enterprise has begun, as conceptualized, with much smaller, tightly controlled thematic/area studies of regional histories, sharply defined in time and space. These smaller studies are visualized to enable not only the exploration of the chosen themes, but also to provide the critical opportunity to experiment with, evaluate and re-modulate methodologies and conceptual issues; employ and explore emerging as well as existent techniques and technologies; evolve fieldwork and research protocols; to forge together teams of researchers with penetrative ideas and passion for erudition; to evolve a comprehensive curriculum for teaching and training the new researchers these new integrated methodologies and protocols; and in slowly institutionalizing these efforts to sustain this entire innovative enterprise to its logical end, that is, in constructing a new people-centric panoramic landscape of South and Southeast Asian history.
Select writings of Nilim Dutta on history, heritage and culture, mostly evolving out of the research and explorations undertaken as part of this panoramic programme can be found in this blog.
Persistence of Memories: forgotten sagas of India’s freedom struggle in oral narratives
Even though Inida’s long struggle for freedom has been a much studied, debated and documented period of South Asian history, many significant events and contributions of numerous individuals have remained undocumented and unacknowledged in the so called ‘official’ histories of this momentous episode. These marginalized narratives however live on as collective memories of local communities; as memories of the few surviving freedom fighters; as family lores amidst the descendants of many who had laid down their lives or had suffered persecution in the hands of the colonial regime; or as legends whose historicity conventional historiography continues to deny. Therefore, when the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation began its panoramic programme for re-exploring South and Southeast Asian History called “Reviving Forgotten Histories” in late 2007, the many ‘undocumented’ narratives of this epic struggle in the region of India’s North East, which is still struggling with the challenges of ethnicity and nation building, became an immensely important thematic component of the programme and owing to the nature of these narratives, oral history became an indispensable tool to explore, record and interpret them.
The exploration and documentation has led to the creation of a one of its kind oral history archive of the Freedom Struggle, preserving for future generations indispensable memories of our past.
Some of these marginalized, about-to-be-forgotten narratives which forms the indispensable part of this archive under construction is being shared in this blog.
Indelible Images: the world through my lens
A passionate photographer and image archivist, this blog is Nilim Dutta’s picture gallery where some of his work remains as exhibits. The pictures included here are not only those which have been taken by him over the time, but many others which have been archived by him and are now part of either his personal archive or that of the institution he belongs to.
My Sketches from Life
The most poignant lessons of life perhaps comes from intimately ‘lived’ personal experiences. Nilim Dutta shares some from his own intimately lived experiences through sketches, paintings and words.