Cambridge University Historian Christopher Bayly Has Died

Historians in the News
tags: obituary, Christopher Bayly

With the death of Cambridge University historian Sir Christopher Alan Bayly, 70, who suffered a huge heart attack in Chicago, the world has lost a top historian who unearthed the roots of Indian nationalism. 

"Chris was one of the greatest historians of India," says Shahid Amin. Bayly's path-breaking research analysed how often overlooked players, from peasants to merchants, money-lenders, mofussil gentry, politicians and spies, contributed to the making of modern India. 

Themes analysed by Bayly radically reshaped understandings of India's past — and remain deeply relevant today. "Studying Allahabad's intricate local politics, he captured two schools of nationalism — Madan Mohan Malaviya's Hindu kind and Motilal Nehru's Western sort. 

From analysing sherwanis and other sartorial styles in the Indian imagination to procuring the entire run of a newspaper edited by Malviya for the National Archives, Bayly's contribution to India was immense," Amin remarks. 

Bayly's work was pioneering in linking local histories to the national — and global. Ramachandra Guha comments, "Chris Bayly was a historian who constantly asked new questions. His work explained important continuities across time - for instance, he showed links between Mughal, British and post-colonial styles of intelligence-gathering. He showed 18th century India as creative and enterprising, not in apathetic Mughal decline. Forever excited about new sources, he wrote about the first wave of globalization to impact the world." 

Read entire article at The Times of India

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