Archives of Southasia
By The Editors
14 January 2014
In celebrating the reissue of Himal’s first print quarterly, we offer a series of articles on the state of archiving in Southasia.
The year 2013 was significant for Himal Southasian. Launching our quarterly ‘bookazine’ format in January – a radical departure from previous incarnations as well as standard magazine formats throughout the region – it gives us immense pleasure to ring in 2014 with the print reissue of our pioneering edition ‘Are We Sure About India?’ Examining the structures of Indian governance, the 1950 Constitution, the quality of democracy, and India’s relationship with authoritarianism, Himal asked (and continues to ask) whether India the nation-state can ever hope to represent the civilisational values of historical ‘India’ and embrace a regionalism marked by open borders rather than concertina wire. In celebration of this milestone – and in anticipation of an equally fruitful 2014 – we are excited to publish online the ‘Archives of Southasia’, a project pursued jointly with our sister organization the Hri Institute for Southasian Research and Exchange that featured in the initial print-run of the issue. At the time, Hri Director Laxmi Murthy explained:“In Southasia today, the immense importance of both social and historical archives for the overall advancement of society is yet to be recognised. The ‘Archives of Southasia’ series … is aimed at creating a better understanding of regional history and the state of the archives that sustain it, and at highlighting the importance of preserving and linking the Subcontinent’s existing archives and collections. Indeed, such work is vital if we are to continue exploring critical sociopolitical questions and challenging complacent historical platitudes, as we have tried to do in this issue with India.The pieces here, which combine original research with the extensive experience of professional researchers and archivists, came out of Hri’s conference entitled ‘Archives Southasia: Creating, Curating, Connecting’. This meeting of archivists from across the region – the first of its kind – provided a unique showcase of efforts toward ensuring that archives do not become morgues. Archivists, scholars and collectors from Bangalore, Chennai, Dhaka, Ernakulam, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Lahore, Mumbai, New Delhi and Yangon shared experiences and valuable insights on the possibilities of making archives dynamic spaces where we can not only reconsider history, but also redefine it.”The online publication of this material will, we hope, go some way to achieving these ends.As always, share widely and enjoy!The Editors