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Center for Public History (CPH)

The Center for Public History was founded to address the gap that exists between historical research and communication of such research to a broader audience. As a part of this effort, the Centre creates through its consultancy unit ARCH@Srishti archives for institutions and enables their dissemination in many forms. The Centre also trains students in Oral History and offers courses in public history so that historical repositories can be enhanced, extended and transformed.

Vision

CPH wishes to change the way we think about history – as a discipline and as practice. We explore new ways of creating, understanding and engaging with historical resources.

Mission

Since its inception, CPH has attempted to democratise history by documenting, preserving and disseminating marginalised and mainstream voices through new media technologies and print media. CPH encourages research into archiving, dissemination and the creation of historical resources through oral history. CPH integrates training, education and research into the creation of oral history and archival resources in order to create greater understanding of historical forces.

Activities

The Centre for Public History works on public history, community history and institutional history by creating archives, including oral history archives, and engaging with different methods of dissemination of historical material. These projects are targeted towards students, academicians, professionals and institutions interested in setting up their archives.

CPH has also hosted and supported the foundation of the Oral History Association of India 2012-2013.

  1. Research & Practices
  2. Oral History and Archival Research: CPH has been conducting research into different aspects of oral history. Members of CPH have presented their research at the International Oral History Association Conference at Barcelona in July 2014 and the annual conference of the Oral History Association of India in Mumbai in January 2015. CPH has also been archiving the city through oral histories in a project called “Bangalore Storyscapes”.

    Oral History Conference: CPH hosted India’s first Oral History Conference with support from British Council’s Connections through Culture Grant on 19 July 2011 where Rob Perks spoke as a keynote speaker.

    Public Talks: CPH also holds regular public talks by academics. Past speakers include Roddam Narasimha, Sharada Srinivasan, Salima Hashmi, Kaiwan Mehta, Tapati Guha Thakurta, Yousuf Saeed, Ann Murphy, Vrunda Pathare, Anna Spudich, Alessandro Portelli and Alexander von Plato.

  3. Student engagement
  4. CPH runs courses and workshops for students at Srishti in the form of projects and liberal art electives. They include Tiger comes to Town, How to Think About Things: An Introduction to Material Culture, Exploring the Folk, Talking History (http://vimeo.com/talkinghistory), Stories Under the Shade and Introduction to Public History. From 2014, CPH is offering an Advanced Diploma Programme in Public History.

    As a part of its academic programme, CPH trains graduates in the theory and practice of oral history through short-term certificate courses. The certificate course is occasionally taught in collaboration with well-known scholars in the field. For example, the January 2014 Oral History Certificate Course had Professor Heather Goodall (University of Technology, Sydney) as Faculty.

    The Centre organises the Winter School in Oral History with international faculty that aims to engage with the scholarship, theory and methods that inform and shape oral history. The first Winter School on Orality, Memory and Social Change had Alessandro Portelli (Italy), Miroslav Vanek (Czech Republic), Susan Schreibman (Ireland), K. Lalita, Suroopa Mukherjee, Deepa Dhanraj, Meena Menon and Kavita Punjabi (all from India) among others as faculty members.

    The Second Winter School on Boundaries, Politics And Narratives: The Intersection Of Oral History, Place And Memory (Jan 6-16, 2015) includes Alexander von Plato (Germany), Anne Valk (USA), Heather Goodall (Australia), Furrukh Khan (Pakistan), Meghna Guhathakurta (Bangladesh) and Urvashi Butalia (India) among others as faculty members.

  5. Consultancies
  6. CPH has a broad focus on the history of institution-building and institutional memory in India. By virtue of this, we accept or invite commissions for large and medium-scale institutional commemorative projects through the consultancy unit of CPH, Archival Resources for Contemporary History (ARCH@Srishti).

    Serving as a link between new thinking about historical resources and diverse institutions in India, CPH and ARCH@Srishti has communicated history in the public sphere in the form of books, exhibitions and performances.

    Examples of Consultancies

    Horticultural Department, Karnataka: Compiled Archival catalogue of 1060 botanical paintings and drawings archived at Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, 2011.

    Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIMC): ARCH@Srishti created the archives and compiled a book about India’s first IIM - titled Citizens and Revolutionaries: An Oral History of IIM Calcutta (Rupa: 2012). We also curated and designed two exhibitions: A Journey through Time (November 2011) and Welcome to the Archives (2012).

    Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc): ARCH@Srishti curated and designed an exhibition Mathematical Conversations for the Golden Jubilee celebrations of IMSc. In collaboration with Sanjay Barnela, we created a short 10 minute documentary as well. We are in the process of creating the archives and a book as well.

    India International Centre (IIC): ARCH@Srishti created the oral history archives of this Delhi-based institution.

    We are currently creating the oral history archives for:

  1. Economic and Political Weekly, Mumbai.
  2. Mallya Aditi International School, Bangalore, book project.
  3. Indian Museum, Kolkata to result in a book.

Partnership & Funding

    Institute of Ayurveda and Integrated Medicine (I-AIM): CPH partnered with I-AIM Health Centre to create an Ayurvedic Cook Book based on the research-based recipes created by I-AIM. This was a Srishti Diploma project undertaken by Shikha Nambiar.

    Archaeological Survey of India (ASI): CPH received funds from ASI and created a public history programme at Bangalore Fort in 2012 as part of ther 150-year celebrations.

    British Council: Indira Chowdhury received the “Connections through Culture” Grant in 2011.

People

Dr. Indira Chowdhury: Director
Dr. Padmini Ray Murray: Faculty
Piyusha Chatterjee: Curator
Avehi Menon: Curator
Priyanka Seshadri: Research Associate
Tanvee Nabar: Graphic Designer
Indira Bharadwaj: Coordinator

Alexander Von Plato addresses the students of WSOH '15.


Anne Valk shares her work with small communities in Rhode Island.


Bangalore Storyscapes Walk.


Sutradhar Workshop.


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