Book-ended by the dramatic historical markers of the Emergency on the one hand and economic liberalization and the Mandal and Masjid controversies on the other, the period that we consciously choose to delineate here as “the long 1980s” is typically dismissed as an era of economic stagnation and political authoritarianism. And yet, in many ways, the 1980s was a period of extraordinary importance. In areas as distinct as the visual arts, classical and popular music, cultural patronage, the writing of national histories, and print and audio-visual media, the 1980s was an era of consolidation and productive re-alignment. Furthermore, these years witnessed a critical deepening of scholarship in the interpretive sciences on these realms both in the Indian academy and around the world. Propelled by this realization, we seek to bring together scholars from across the humanities and social sciences to pursue three interlocking projects: (1) to identify what we are calling the long 1980s as a pivotal turning point in India’s twentieth-century history; (2) to take stock of the scholarship on the areas we have identified as historically constitutive of that period; and (3) to connect studies of cultural production with those of political practice and political economy.

We invite you to join us on December 21-22, 2012 in Delhi to discuss The Long 1980s.