John Hope Franklin and Romila Thapar: Two scholars will share their views of the role of the historian and social change

Historians in the News

Internationally renowned scholars John Hope Franklin and Romila Thapar will reflect on social change and the role of the historian in an Oct. 27 public conversation at Duke University.

“The Historian in the World: A Conversation with John Hope Franklin and Romila Thapar” will take place at 3 p.m. in the Divinity School’s Goodson Chapel on Duke’s West Campus. It is free and open to the public. Srinivas Aravamudan, director of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, will moderate the discussion.

Franklin, who wrote one of the first histories of the African-American experience, and Thapar, a historian of India, both have been involved in debates in their respective countries about historical truth, political identity and social reform.

Franklin, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History, is the author of the 1947 book, “From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans,” which is still considered the definitive account of the black experience in America. His studies unearthed long-neglected yet essential parts of the American past, challenging historians to rethink American history as a whole.

In addition, he worked on the Brown v. Board of Education case, marched on Washington in 1963, was in Selma with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and headed President Clinton’s 1997 national advisory board on race. He has won numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Thapar is professor emeritus of history at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and one of the world’s foremost experts on ancient Indian history. Her research on ancient India has led to new ways of reading evidence from archaeology, mythology, literature, philosophy, ritual texts, folklore and other sources. First published in 1966, Thapar’s “History of India, Vol.1,” has been in print ever since.

She has challenged the view that India’s history is shaped primarily by a conflict between the Hindu and Muslim communities, and has spoken out about issues such as the 2006 controversy about revising the portrayal of India and Hinduism in California textbooks.

Thapar has been a visiting professor at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania, and in 2004 the U.S. Library of Congress appointed her as the first Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South. This fall, Thapar is a scholar in residence at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke.
Read entire article at Duke Press Release

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