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Interview – Chitralekha Zutshi

Chitralekha Zutshi is Class of 1962 Professor of History at William & Mary. She has written widely on nationalism, religious identities, and historical traditions in South Asia, primarily in the context of Kashmir. Her books include, Languages of Belonging: Islam, Regional Identity, and the Making of KashmirKashmir’s Contested Pasts: Narratives, Sacred Geographies, and the Historical ImaginationKashmir: Oxford India Short Introductions, and the edited volume, Kashmir: History, Politics, Representation.

Where do you see the most exciting research/debates happening in your field? 

Since my graduate student days, I’ve been part of a cohort of scholars seeking to define the region in South Asian history. Our primary objective was/is to disaggregate the region (and also religion) from its appropriation and disappearance into the history of the Indian nation. The resultant works on Maharashtra, Punjab, Kashmir, Bengal, and Gujarat, among others, were designed to help us understand how regional ideas and religious affiliations shaped the history—as well as the successes and failures—of the nationalist project and indeed the idea of South Asia, as well as that of India and of Pakistan. The study of regions continues to be a vibrant field; more recently, we have turned our attention to the processes that have contributed to the drawing of the contours of what we have always accepted as stable, established regional communities. This has yielded ground-breaking research into regional historical traditions and interactions among multiple linguistic and script communities.

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