The South Asian Studies Council Colloquium Series presents:
Arupjyoti Saikia, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati: “The Unruly Floodplains, the British Empire and an Environmental History of the Brahmaputra.”
The British East India company occupied Assam in 1826. Soon began half-hearted attempt to control the floodplains of the Brahmaputra. Much of it posed serious challenges. Resistance came from different corners: from the monsoon climate, the shifting river courses, and the unruly floodplains. Over the next decades, the imperial officials, learning from the intricacies of coexisting with water, embarked on a complex as well as the difficult task of redesigning the floodplain landscape. By bringing the river Brahmaputra into the center-stage of Assam, this talk recounts this imperial project.
Arupjyoti Saikia is Professor in History in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. He is also the Suryya Kumar Bhuyan Endowment Chair Professor in the Institute. He earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of Delhi. His teaching and research interests are in the field of Assam’s economic and environmental history. He was awarded the Agrarian Studies Fellowship at Yale University during 2011-12. More recently, he has held visiting fellow position at the Cambridge University. Saikia’s published works include Forests and Ecological History of Assam, 1826-2000 (published by Oxford University Press in 2011) and A Century of Protests: Peasant Politics in Assam since 1900 (published by Rutledge in 2014). In 2015 Saikia was awarded Srikant Dutta Memorial Book Award by the Nehru Memorial the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, New Delhi for A Century of Protests. His The Unquiet River: An Environmental History of the Brahmaputra will be published by the Oxford University Press in early 2019. His essays have appeared in Journal of Peasant Studies, Modern Asian Studies, Indian Economic and Social History Review, Studies in History, etc. In 2002, Saikia published an edited a volume of Orunodoi (for the years 1855 to 1868), the first print magazine in the Assamese language. In 2017 Saikia was awarded the New India Foundation Fellowship to write a book on Assam’s political history after 1947.