BBC Radio 4 presents "Lies My Teacher Told Me" by Dr Priya Atwal

Over five weekday radio episodes on BBC Radio 4 this week, Historian Priya Atwal will examine how national history is told across the globe, ranging from the fraught business of teaching Lebanese children history to a discussion of conflict in Northern Ireland.

Dr Atwal is very passionate about making academic History accessible and interesting to public audiences. This BBC Radio 4 series constitutes an excellent example of her work in public engagement.

You can listen to all five episodes of Lies My Teacher Told Me on the BBC website.

The episode titles are as follows:

  1. All is Revision: School textbook history can often reveal much about a nation's desire to shape or avoid the complexities of its own past.
  2. Lebanon-History Interrupted: Dr Atwal explores the global pitfalls in telling textbook national history. In Lebanon the future is uncertain & the past is frozen - history stops at 1943.
  3. Saffronising History: Dr Atwal explores the global pitfalls in telling textbook national history. In India both Hindu nationalism & old colonial narratives have played a significant role.
  4. Japan - Revising the past: Dr Atwal explores the global pitfalls in telling textbook national history. Japan's 20th-century war, empire and conquest has often been a fault line at home & abroad.
  5. Northern Ireland-Healing History? Dr Atwal concludes her examination of how national history is told across the globe with the story of Northern Ireland. Teaching during deep divisions to post conflict.

TORCH was fortunate enough to collaborate with Dr Atwal on a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship in 2017 and 2018. Dr Atwal's project was entitled 'The Indian Army in the First World War: an Oxfordshire perspective'. The aim of the project was to work collaboratively with the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in order to investigate and highlight the overlapping, but largely overlooked experiences of men from India and Oxfordshire in fighting for the British Indian Army in Mesopotamia during the First World War. Key outputs of the project were several public history events and new educational resources for primary schools, which were designed to promote improved understanding of the local and global connections wrought between Oxfordshire and India by WW1.

Dr Atwal now works as a freelance public historian and broadcaster, having previously taught at King's College London, and studied and worked at the University of Oxford and gaining a DPhil in History in June 2017. She has recently [September 2020] published a book about the rise and fall of the Sikh Empire – particularly highlighting new perspectives about the largely overlooked cultural and political roles played by Punjabi royal women and princes in shaping the fortunes of their dynastic kingdom.