Well I made good on my threat, and did that In Focus. I’ll be adding a lot more links, since it’s a large subject.
I also posted again at Cliopatria, about Romila Thapar. There are more interesting comments there, from people who know far more about history and historians than I do. Timothy Burke makes this excellent point:
This is one of those junctures where the tragic confusion of some scholars in the US and England about where their sympathies should lie potentially becomes pretty dangerous if not corrected. It strikes me that Hindutva’s self-representation is actually pretty fair in one respect: it is more genuinely popular, “from-below”, and less obviously “Western” than scholarly history practiced in Indian academies (though in the end, I’d say it’s actually quite resonantly “Western” in the same way that most forms of romantic anti-modernity modernism ultimately are). For some scholars, the mere notion that something is meaningfully “from-below” accords it instant moral legitimacy, particularly if it involves non-Westerners refusing or rejecting something that can be reasonably tagged as Western. But Hindutva is systematically repellant, and any intellectual or morally conscious person anywhere in the world ought to recognize it as such.
Just so. The old ‘from-below’ trap. It’s well-meaning, it’s understandable, but – it is such a mistake.