Established in 1922, the Department of History was one of the Founding Departments of the University of Delhi. At least for 2 decades the Department (like many other depts.) was not having any direct faculty member as in the most of the subjects teaching was being organized at colleges only by the college faculty. It was only in 1943 S.N.Sen was appointed as the first Professor of the Department. The Department has long been at the forefront of Global and National Academia, with its faculty having been involved in the nurturing and running of prominent journals and institutions such as the Indian History Congress, one of the largest community of Historians in the world. The Department of History has gained a global reputation for its intellectual contributions to the discipline. At different junctures in the past its members heralded scholarship in the field of socio-economic history of a Marxist persuasion and this impacted the field of ancient, medieval and modern history. Over the years this scholarship was considerably nuanced, again by the Department’s faculty members, and it is their work, once again, that has impacted the global academy in fields such as archaeology, numismatics, the study of religion, gender, sexuality, processes of acculturation and social formations, social and cultural history, the study of subalterns, tribes, peasantry, labour, economic history, agrarian studies, trans-regional and global studies, war, archives, language, literature, translations, printing, caste, law, intellectual history, state formations, border studies, education, medicine, art, cinema, merchants and litterateurs. It is a long list but the substance in the claim for global reputation and impact comes from the international reach of our faculty – they are on the governing body of many renowned institutions in India, editors of peer-reviewed journals in the field, key note speakers, panel discussants, paper presenters at conferences and workshops.
One of the outstanding features of the Department of History has always been its scholastic plurality – its faculty members have received their academic training around the globe, they have all written differing kinds of histories and follow their own political commitments. Although the faculty does not conform to a particular research methodology, this plurality in academic interests is sustained and reproduced through debate and discussions which we pursue through well-ingrained democratic impulses. We are the richer in the range of our courses, and sharper in debate and political commitments from the need to locate our intellectual positions cogently and respectful of plurality. All this, even when we argue passionately and vehemently.
This Department is a UGC sponsored ‘Centre of Advanced Studies of History’. Never has a bureaucratic appellation resided more comfortably as a signature of our past and our aspirations. This is a centre of learning, of reproduction of knowledge and debate and in foregrounding History we have always been aware of the multiplicity amongst our students to whom we owe the responsibility of providing the finest possible programme in the teaching and learning of our discipline.