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History-writing, this seminar suggests, is not the re-creation of a past that is lying mute, waiting for the historian to give it voice. Historiography is instead a code or genre or technology that constructs the past in ways that make it amenable to representation through the code of history. If history-writing is not the truth of the past, and if other forms of relating to it (myth, epic, legend) are erroneous, we can explore the elements that constitute the code of history, prompting us to ask what history-writing is ‘for’, what does it ‘do’. The seminar concludes by asking whether this code is adequate for representing non-Western and indigenous pasts.
Professor Sanjay Seth is Professor of Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. An alumni of ANU, Professor Seth has published in the fields of modern Indian history, political and social theory, postcolonial theory and international relations. He is particularly interested in how modern European ideologies, and modern Western knowledge more generally, ‘travelled’ to the non-Western world - and what effects this had both on the non-Western world, and on modern, Western knowledge.