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India’s Past and the Making of the Present

Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A four-week institute for twenty-four higher education faculty to study the history and culture of India in New Delhi and other important sites on the subcontinent.

The Community College Humanities Association (CCHA) hosts an institute, "India's Past and the Making of the Present," directed by Beverly Blois (Northern Virginia Community College) and Daniel Ehnbom (University of Virginia), to be held in New Delhi, India. The project allows participants from two- and four-year colleges and universities to study selected aspects of India's history, literature, architecture, art and religion with some of the foremost scholars, journalists, film makers, and leaders of social movements in India. The institute moves chronologically through Indian history. The first week begins with an introduction to the Indus Valley civilization and the Aryan question and enlarges the discussion to how these early societies facilitated the establishment of an enduring culture that is reflected in India today. During this week, co-director Blois leads a study tour of the city of Delhi and its sites of cultural importance. The second week moves to classical India and the development of established religious faiths that led to attempts at socio-religious syncretism. Texts studied this week include the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita and site visits include a trip to Varanasi and nearby Sarnath. The third week delves into the initial encounter between India and Islam (1206-1526), closely examines the nature of the complicated and intertwined relationship that developed between the two, and traces this relationship to its current dissension in India. Participants are also joined on a tour of the Taj Mahal by Ebba Koch, an art historian and advisor on the building's restoration. The final week focuses on the British Raj, India's independence, and the making of modern India. Guest lectures touch on a variety of topics including British colonialism, Gandhi and Nehru's role in India's independence, and the issue of communal violence which emerged in the 1950s, as a dark underside of Indian politics and society. Visiting lecturers for the institute include Meena Nayak (Northern Virginia Community College), Swami Agnivesh (Bonded Labour Liberation Front), M. J. Akbar (India Today), David Campion (Lewis and Clark College), Sudeep Chakravarty (Manipal University, India), Asghar Ali Engineer (Institute of Islamic Studies, India), Tushar Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, India), Mushirul Hasan (National Archives of India), Karthika V. K. (Harper Collins India), Ebba Koch (University of Vienna, Austria), Sunil Kumar (Delhi University, India), Shereen Ratnagar (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India), Romila Thapar (University of London, UK), and Shashi Tharoor (author and former United Nations Under-Secretary General).

Faculty: Shereen Ratnagar, Romila Thapar, Asghar Ali Engineer, Swami Agnivesh, Mushirul Hasan, Karthika V. K., Sudeep Chakravarty, Ebba Koch, M. J. Akbar, Sunil Kumar, Meena Nayak, David Campion, Shyam Benegal , Shashi Tharoor, Tushar Gandhi

Dates: July 1–26 (4 weeks)
Director(s): Beverly Blois, Northern Virginia Community College and Daniel Ehnbom, University of Virginia
Grantee Institutions: Community College Humanities Association
Location: New Delhi, Varanasi, and Agra, India

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in Summer Seminars and Institutes. Each NEH Summer Seminar includes sixteen participants working in collaboration with one or two leading scholars. Participants have access to a major research collection, with time reserved to pursue individual projects.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes are designed primarily for teachers of American undergraduate students. Qualified independent scholars and those employed by museums, libraries, historical societies, and other organizations may be eligible to compete provided they can effectively advance the teaching and research goals of the project.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one.

Please note:

Adjunct faculty, community college faculty and first-time participants are encouraged to apply.

Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are reserved for current full-time graduate students in the humanities.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.