The historical abyss

Moni Mohsin writes in the Guardian, ‘My daughter is now in her second year of A-levels. She has studied history from the age of nine, but the closest she has come to any mention of empire was in her GCSE syllabus that included the run-up to the second world war. While studying the Treaty of Versailles, she learned that some countries had colonies at the time and, as part of Germany’s punishment, it was stripped of its colonial possessions. Period.

Though she read about the brutal battles in the Pacific and North Africa, no mention was made of the 2.5 million Indian soldiers who volunteered to fight in the second world war – or the 1.3 million who served in 1914-18 . . .

Dr Mukulika Banerjee, director of the South Asia Centre and associate professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics, talks of British students who “arrive at university completely ignorant about the empire, that vital part of their history. When we talk of Syria today, they have no knowledge of Britain’s role in the Middle East in the last century. When discussing burning political questions today, they have no historical context to  draw on that links Britain’s own past with those events . . .” .’ click here.