Contesting histories and nationalist geographies: A comparison of school textbooks in India and Pakistan

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2 Scopus citations


This article examines selected high school textbooks from India and Pakistan to see how they craft two different histories out of a shared past. Central to this endeavour, the article suggests, is the device of placing the two nations' histories within differently imagined geographies. Indian textbooks represent the naturalness of India through a geography and cartography first created in the colonial era. Influences from outside of these 'natural' boundaries are deemed to be 'foreign' to Indian history or culture. Pakistan's imagined geography is different. Underplaying subcontinental links, Pakistani textbooks stress the 'natural' affinities of Pakistan with the Islamic world. Ultimately, such nationalist geographies teach students in India and Pakistan - who may live no more than fifty miles away from each other and whose grandparents may well have lived together as neighbours - to imagine themselves as not only the inheritors of different pasts, but as inhabiting different geographical spaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-377
Number of pages21
JournalSouth Asian History and Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010



  • cartography
  • history
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • textbooks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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