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image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

The study of the historic past, through material evidence and texts, was an integral component of colonial practice in India, and remains a highly visible governmental and public focus in contemporary South Asia. In this paper, we present an historic overview of the development of knowledge and research on ancient India, beginning with the formation of the Asiatic Society in 1784 and proceeding to the creation of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1861, when history and archaeology were formally differentiated. We trace this development through the post-colonial period, examining how archaeology and ancient history are practiced and conceptualized today. We conclude with four case studies that explore the existing state of, and the potential for, productive partnerships between historians and archaeologists.

L'étude du passée historique, à travers l'evidence material et documentaire, faisait partie intégrante du pratique colonial a l'Inde, et reste encore un foyer du gouvernement et de la publique de la sud-Asie contemporaine. Dans cet essai, nous presentons un exposé historique du developpement de la connaissance et de la recherche sur l'Inde ancienne, a partir de la formation de la Asiatic Society in 1784, jusqu'a la creation du Archaeological Survey of India en 1861, du quel point on faisait la difference entre l'histoire et l'archeologie. Nous retraçons ce developpement au travers la periode post-coloniale, en examinant la pratique et la conception de l'archeologie et de l'histoire d'aujourdhui. Pour conclure, nous presentons quatre exemples qui considerent l'existence et le potentiel des associations fertiles entre les historiens et les archeologues.


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