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Romila Thapar

The Indian historian has been named for the US Library of Congress.

india Updated: Apr 22, 2003 20:50 IST

Renowned Indian historian Romila Thapar has been appointed to a prestigious chair in the US. She has been named to the newly established Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South at the Library of Congress.

Thapar, an emeritus professor of ancient Indian history in Jawaharlal Nehru University, is its first holder.

"The Kluge Chairs are unique in Washington," Lester Vogel, special assistant to the director of scholarly programmes at Library of Congress, told IANS.

"Designed for people of great scholarly accomplishment, they are chosen solely for their intellectual and communicative abilities by the Librarian of Congress in consultation with a distinguished Scholars Council."

Vogel said there are five Kluge Chairs, all of who are free to pursue their own fields of research using the vast resources of the library. Where, however, these positions differ from other academic positions is in their proximity to Congress.

While it is not the policy of the Kluge Centre to reveal the monetary value of their chairs, Vogel said these were worth the same as senior professorships at Harvard or Oxford.

Appointing Thapar, librarian of Congress James Billington said as the first holder of the Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South, she would spend 10 months at the John W Kluge Centre pursuing "Historical consciousness in early India" as her area of research.

Thapar, who has served as visiting professor at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of many seminal works on the history of ancient India.

Her volume of the "Penguin History of India" has been continuously in print since 1966. Her latest publication is "Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300."

Other recent works are "History and Beyond", "Cultural Pasts: Essays in Early Indian History", and "History and Beyond".

In her published works, Thapar has pioneered both the study of early Indian texts as history and the integration of the critical use of archaeology with written sources.

Thapar has held many visiting posts in Europe, the US and Japan. She is an Honorary Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

She has honorary doctorates from the University of Chicago, the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris, the University of Oxford and the University of Calcutta.

The Library of Congress established the John W Kluge Centre in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate, energise and distil wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington.

The Kluge Centre houses five senior Kluge Chairs (American Law and Governance, Countries and Cultures of the North, Countries and Cultures of the South, Technology and Society, and Modern Culture).