North-East History Summit

13th and 14th September, 2024

University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya


Tracing Histories, Unraveling Identities: Exploring the Muslim Communities of North-East India

About the Conference

Convened by the Centre for Educational Research and Training (CERT), the North-East History Conference invites scholars, community leaders, and the public to engage in a critical exploration of the origins and history of Muslim communities in the North-East region of India.

Concept Note

History is an ever-evolving field of study that undergoes a variety of dynamic experiments and explorations time and again. Throughout the ages, scholars have made significant efforts to understand the historical studies of vast geopolitical areas. However, the ever-changing nature of territorial borders imposes a profound influence on these narratives, often reshaping them to align with prevailing power dynamics. Within this framework, the concept of regional history emerges as a pragmatic approach to historical inquiry. Regional history studies the past from a local perspective and is interested in the smaller community and ordinary people’s activities in their own environment, as articulated by PL Scholtz. This approach places emphasis on understanding the intricacies of local communities and everyday life, thereby enriching our comprehension of the past. Additionally, Wessels underscores the significance of considering a broad spectrum of histories encompassing environmental, urban, local, town, and rural dimensions within the realm of regional studies. Through this holistic lens, Frederick J. Turner brings forward the significance of regionalism to bridge disparate historical narratives and foster a more interconnected understanding of human experience.

In the context of India’s expansive landscape, regional historiography assumes particular importance, offering insights into the complex tapestry of its historical trajectory. Within the realm of Indian historiography, regional history serves as a critical lens through which scholars examine the diverse socio-cultural, economic, and political dynamics that have shaped distinct geographical areas within the subcontinent. Regions such as North India, South India, and Northeast India offer rich reservoirs of historical narratives, each characterized by unique trajectories of development and interaction. The study of regional history enables researchers to delve into the intricacies of local societies, identities, and institutions, illuminating the complex interplay between regional specificities and broader historical processes. By adopting a regional approach, scholars can discern patterns of continuity and change, trace the evolution of cultural traditions, and analyze the impact of external influences on indigenous communities. Moreover, regional histories provide valuable insights into inter-regional connections, trade networks, and socio-political formations, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of India’s pluralistic and dynamic historical landscape. Nevertheless, cautionary notes from scholars like Romilla Thapar emphasize the need for critical engagement. Firstly, scholars must not use the conventional periodization of ancient, medieval, and modern as a convenience or allow it to become an intellectual truth. Secondly, they should not endorse prevailing theories that seem almost axiomatic for comprehending regional history. Thirdly, dominant groups often trace the inevitable search for a golden age, characterized by glowing tints of cultural resurgence. Hence, the study of regional history raises many critical questions about the existing pathologies of historiography in India. Furthermore, Indu Banga highlights the transformative potential of regional studies in challenging biased interpretations and promoting inclusivity within historical discourse.

Furthermore, expanding the scope of historical inquiry to encompass community histories within the broader framework of regional history provides additional layers of understanding and significance. Carl Becker and other scholars have underscored the significance of situating community histories within broader regional narratives, stating that one cannot separate a community’s history from its surrounding region. By situating local histories within regional contexts, scholars can discern patterns of interaction, influence, and interdependence that transcend individual communities. The investigation of the communities, particularly the Muslim community, within the framework of regional historiography in Northeast India, a region characterized by comparatively higher religious diversity within the country, stands as a significant scholarly endeavor. There are several interconnected reasons why focusing on this community within the regional context is crucial. Northeast India represents a unique socio-cultural landscape where diverse ethnicities, languages, and religious traditions coexist, fostering a complex tapestry of historical narratives. The study of the Muslim community offers insights into the dynamics of interfaith interactions, cultural exchanges, and identity formations, thereby enriching the understanding of the region’s historical evolution. Furthermore, the Muslim presence in Northeast India has historical significance dating back to various periods, including the spread of Islam through trade routes, Sufi missions, and migrations. Exploring the trajectory of the Muslim community within the regional historiography reveals the multifaceted processes of adaptation, integration, and contestation that have shaped their experiences over time. Additionally, understanding the socio-political dynamics surrounding the Muslim community in Northeast India is essential for comprehending contemporary issues related to identity politics, minority rights, and communal harmony in the region. By contextualizing the experiences of the Muslim population within a broader regional framework, scholars can shed light on the complex interplay between local histories and national narratives.

The Centre for Educational Research and Training (CERT) has organized regional history colloquia, such as the South Indian History Colloquium, with the tagline, “Remembering Histories, Asserting Identities.” The Northeast History Conference is the next endeavor.


This conference emphasizes the growing importance of regional historiography in contemporary academia. Its objectives are to:

  • Unveil the intricate and diverse historical narrative of Muslims in the North-East.
  • Facilitate a dynamic platform for vigorous academic discussion and public engagement.
  • Challenge established narratives and explore the complex factors shaping the socio-cultural landscape of North-Eastern Muslims.
Thematic Areas of Exploration

1. Historical Arrival and Integration:

This segment will delve into the diverse arrival stories of Muslim communities across the North-East, examining trade routes, cultural exchanges, and the evolution of distinct regional identities, while also exploring the impact of military conquest and the rule of Bengal sultans on the region’s socio-cultural landscape, providing a comprehensive understanding of historical developments.


2. Expressions of Faith and Cultural Fusion:

This will explore how Muslim communities have practiced their faith and integrated Islamic traditions with local customs in various aspects of life, including art, music, architecture, and cuisine.


3. Socio-Political Dynamics and Negotiations:

This theme will analyze the evolving social and political landscape and its impact on the lives of Muslims in the North-East. This may encompass discussions on citizenship issues, political representation, and inter-community relations.

  1. Historical Arrival and Settlement Histories: Tracing the migration, dissemination of faith, and community formation patterns of Muslim communities to the North-East and examining their processes of settlement and integration into local societies.
  2. Medieval Bengal’s Expansion into North-East India: From Sultanate to Mughal Empire Tracing the history of the Medieval Bengal rulers’ expeditions and annexations of parts of north-east India from the Bengali Sultanate to the Mughal Empire. The study also scrutinizes the effects of Muslim rule on regional administrative systems, ruling classes, and socio-cultural dynamics.
  3. Cultural Exchange and Adaptation: Investigating how Muslim communities in the North-East have adapted to and influenced local cultures, traditions, and languages over time.
  4. Religious Institutions and Practices: Exploring the historical development of mosques, madrasas, and other religious institutions among Muslim communities in the North-East and analyzing their roles in community life and identity formation.
  5. Trade and Commerce Networks: Examining the historical role of Muslim traders and merchants in facilitating trade networks, economic exchanges, and cultural diffusion in the North-East region.
  6. Artistic and Architectural Heritage: Examining the architectural styles, artistic traditions, and material culture associated with Muslim communities in the North-East, as well as their significance in reflecting religious, cultural, and social identities.
  7. Political Agency and Socio-Political Movements: Assessing the historical participation of Muslim communities in political movements, resistance struggles, and governance structures in the North-East and exploring their impact on regional history and identity.
  8. Investigating the establishment and evolution of Islamic and secular educational institutions, intellectual traditions, and scholarly networks in the North-East, as well as their contributions to knowledge production and cultural exchange.
  9. Conflict and Coexistence: Examining instances of interfaith relations, conflicts, and collaborations involving Muslim communities in the North-East, and analyzing their implications for social cohesion, identity politics, and historical memory.
  10. Environmental Histories and Ecological Interactions: Exploring the historical interactions between Muslim communities and the natural environment in the North-East, including agricultural practices, resource management strategies, and ecological knowledge systems.
  11. Memory, Heritage, and Commemoration: Addressing issues related to the preservation of Muslim cultural heritage, collective memory, and commemorative practices in the North-East and discussing their significance for identity formation and community cohesion.
  12. Comparative Histories: Exploring connections and contrasts between Muslim communities in North-East India and other regions of the country, shedding light on migration patterns, religious practices, socio-political dynamics, and cultural expressions.

Key Dates

  • Abstract submission deadline: 25th July, 2024
  • Notification of acceptance: 10th August, 2024
  • Full paper submission deadline: 10th September, 2024
  • Conference dates: 13th and 14th September, 2024

Abstract and Paper Submission Guidelines  

  • Language: English
  • Font and size: Times New Roman, 12
  • Spacing: 1.5
  • Word limit: Abstract 350-500 words, Full Paper up to 3500 words.
  • Include the name, contact details and affiliations of all the authors and underline the presenting author.
  • The abstract must not exceed 500 words.