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Debjani Bhattacharyya

11 Podcast Episodes

Latest 13 Aug 2022 | Updated Daily

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Debjani Bhattacharyya - Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta

Lekh

In the 22nd episode, I speak to Debjani Bhattacharyya, Associate Professor of History and Urban Studies, Drexel University and soon to be Professor and Chair of the History of the Anthropocene at the University of Zurich on her recent book Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. The conversation begins by asking Bhattacharyya about how she arrived at this topic and issue before moving to understand how historians and histories covered Calcutta’s origins. Next, we unpack how British officials used legal and technological instruments to transform Calcutta's marshes and bogs to landed spaces that could be used for economic purposes including financial speculation. Bhattacharyya also elaborates on one particular event involving Benjamin Lacam who brought a case against the East India Company in 1777 alleging that the company cheated him of profits by canceling his land grant which laid bare the challenges in the nature of colonial knowledge about Calcutta's fluid landscape. Bhattacharyya explains why she engaged with and incorporated vernacular representations of riverine spaces and how locals in Calcutta imagined and inhabited these spaces. The book's importance to contemporary debates stems from the ongoing impact of climate change to cities like Calcutta and the inability of officials to grasp the history of Calcutta's founding. The conversation ends by asking Bhattacharyya how she see's her work alongside recent books on South Asian rivers and waters, her ambitious next work covering the Indian Ocean and what she hopes to accomplish through her new chair in Zurich.

50mins

4 Jan 2022

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Climate crisis: with Debjani Bhattacharyya and Nayanika Mathur

South Asia Conversations At Cambridge University

A second series of conversations features content from the Cambridge South Asian Seminar, a programme of double-headed presentations held online. In the first episode, Nayanika Mathur (University of Oxford) and Debjani Bhattacharyya (Drexel University) highlight the effects of the climate crisis on aspects of South Asian civil society and politics. (Please note: due to a recording error, the first few minutes of this seminar are missing from the file)

35mins

14 Oct 2020

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Debjani Bhattacharyya, "Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

New Books in British Studies

Debjani Bhattacharyya’s Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta (Cambridge University Press) asks: What happens when a distant colonial power tries to tame an unfamiliar terrain in the world's largest tidal delta?This history of dramatic ecological changes in the Bengal Delta from 1760 to 1920 involves land, water and humans, tracing the stories and struggles that link them together. Pushing beyond narratives of environmental decline, Bhattacharyya argues that 'property-thinking', a governing tool critical in making land and water discrete categories of bureaucratic and legal management, was at the heart of colonial urbanization and the technologies behind the draining of Calcutta.The story of ecological change is narrated alongside emergent practices of land speculation and transformation in colonial law. Bhattacharyya demonstrates how this history continues to shape our built environments with devastating consequences, as shown in the Bay of Bengal's receding coastline.Debjani Bhattacharyya is Assistant Professor of History at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She was a Junior Fellow of the American Institute of India Studies, and a former Research Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden. Currently, she is a visiting Fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton UniversityAhmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at almaazmi@princeton.edu or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/british-studies

1hr 3mins

21 Sep 2020

Episode artwork

Debjani Bhattacharyya, "Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

New Books in South Asian Studies

Debjani Bhattacharyya’s Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta (Cambridge University Press) asks: What happens when a distant colonial power tries to tame an unfamiliar terrain in the world's largest tidal delta?This history of dramatic ecological changes in the Bengal Delta from 1760 to 1920 involves land, water and humans, tracing the stories and struggles that link them together. Pushing beyond narratives of environmental decline, Bhattacharyya argues that 'property-thinking', a governing tool critical in making land and water discrete categories of bureaucratic and legal management, was at the heart of colonial urbanization and the technologies behind the draining of Calcutta.The story of ecological change is narrated alongside emergent practices of land speculation and transformation in colonial law. Bhattacharyya demonstrates how this history continues to shape our built environments with devastating consequences, as shown in the Bay of Bengal's receding coastline.Debjani Bhattacharyya is Assistant Professor of History at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She was a Junior Fellow of the American Institute of India Studies, and a former Research Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden. Currently, she is a visiting Fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton UniversityAhmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at almaazmi@princeton.edu or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/south-asian-studies

1hr 3mins

21 Sep 2020

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Episode artwork

Debjani Bhattacharyya, "Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

New Books in the Indian Ocean World

Debjani Bhattacharyya’s Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta (Cambridge University Press) asks: What happens when a distant colonial power tries to tame an unfamiliar terrain in the world's largest tidal delta?This history of dramatic ecological changes in the Bengal Delta from 1760 to 1920 involves land, water and humans, tracing the stories and struggles that link them together. Pushing beyond narratives of environmental decline, Bhattacharyya argues that 'property-thinking', a governing tool critical in making land and water discrete categories of bureaucratic and legal management, was at the heart of colonial urbanization and the technologies behind the draining of Calcutta.The story of ecological change is narrated alongside emergent practices of land speculation and transformation in colonial law. Bhattacharyya demonstrates how this history continues to shape our built environments with devastating consequences, as shown in the Bay of Bengal's receding coastline.Debjani Bhattacharyya is Assistant Professor of History at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She was a Junior Fellow of the American Institute of India Studies, and a former Research Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden. Currently, she is a visiting Fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton UniversityAhmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at almaazmi@princeton.edu or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/indian-ocean-world

1hr 3mins

21 Sep 2020

Episode artwork

Debjani Bhattacharyya, "Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

New Books in Law

Debjani Bhattacharyya’s Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta (Cambridge University Press) asks: What happens when a distant colonial power tries to tame an unfamiliar terrain in the world's largest tidal delta?This history of dramatic ecological changes in the Bengal Delta from 1760 to 1920 involves land, water and humans, tracing the stories and struggles that link them together. Pushing beyond narratives of environmental decline, Bhattacharyya argues that 'property-thinking', a governing tool critical in making land and water discrete categories of bureaucratic and legal management, was at the heart of colonial urbanization and the technologies behind the draining of Calcutta.The story of ecological change is narrated alongside emergent practices of land speculation and transformation in colonial law. Bhattacharyya demonstrates how this history continues to shape our built environments with devastating consequences, as shown in the Bay of Bengal's receding coastline.Debjani Bhattacharyya is Assistant Professor of History at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She was a Junior Fellow of the American Institute of India Studies, and a former Research Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden. Currently, she is a visiting Fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton UniversityAhmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at almaazmi@princeton.edu or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/law

1hr 3mins

21 Sep 2020

Episode artwork

Debjani Bhattacharyya, "Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

New Books in Environmental Studies

Debjani Bhattacharyya’s Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta (Cambridge University Press) asks: What happens when a distant colonial power tries to tame an unfamiliar terrain in the world's largest tidal delta?This history of dramatic ecological changes in the Bengal Delta from 1760 to 1920 involves land, water and humans, tracing the stories and struggles that link them together. Pushing beyond narratives of environmental decline, Bhattacharyya argues that 'property-thinking', a governing tool critical in making land and water discrete categories of bureaucratic and legal management, was at the heart of colonial urbanization and the technologies behind the draining of Calcutta.The story of ecological change is narrated alongside emergent practices of land speculation and transformation in colonial law. Bhattacharyya demonstrates how this history continues to shape our built environments with devastating consequences, as shown in the Bay of Bengal's receding coastline.Debjani Bhattacharyya is Assistant Professor of History at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She was a Junior Fellow of the American Institute of India Studies, and a former Research Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden. Currently, she is a visiting Fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton UniversityAhmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at almaazmi@princeton.edu or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/environmental-studies

1hr 3mins

21 Sep 2020

Episode artwork

Debjani Bhattacharyya, "Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

New Books in History

Debjani Bhattacharyya’s Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta (Cambridge University Press) asks: What happens when a distant colonial power tries to tame an unfamiliar terrain in the world's largest tidal delta?This history of dramatic ecological changes in the Bengal Delta from 1760 to 1920 involves land, water and humans, tracing the stories and struggles that link them together. Pushing beyond narratives of environmental decline, Bhattacharyya argues that 'property-thinking', a governing tool critical in making land and water discrete categories of bureaucratic and legal management, was at the heart of colonial urbanization and the technologies behind the draining of Calcutta.The story of ecological change is narrated alongside emergent practices of land speculation and transformation in colonial law. Bhattacharyya demonstrates how this history continues to shape our built environments with devastating consequences, as shown in the Bay of Bengal's receding coastline.Debjani Bhattacharyya is Assistant Professor of History at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She was a Junior Fellow of the American Institute of India Studies, and a former Research Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden. Currently, she is a visiting Fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton UniversityAhmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at almaazmi@princeton.edu or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/history

1hr 3mins

21 Sep 2020

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Technofascism in India w/ Banu Subramaniam & Debjani Bhattacharyya

Tech Won't Save Us

Paris Marx is joined by Banu Subramaniam and Debjani Bhattacharyya to discuss Indian politics under Narendra Modi and the BJP; how contract-tracing apps and geofencing are being used to monitor people during COVID-19; and how Hindu nationalism is informing responses to the pandemic on WhatsApp.Banu Subramaniam is a professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of “Holy Science: The Biopolitics of Hindu Nationalism.” Debjani Bhattacharyya is an assistant professor of History at Drexel University and the author of “Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta.” They recently wrote about technofascism in India and how people are using WhatsApp in response to COVID-19. You can follow Debjani on Twitter at @itihaashtag.Tech Won't Save Us offers a critical perspective on tech, its worldview, and wider society with the goal of inspiring people to demand better tech and a better world. Follow the podcast (@techwontsaveus) and host Paris Marx (@parismarx) on Twitter.Support the show (https://patreon.com/techwontsaveus)

40mins

25 Jun 2020

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Spring 2020 Podcast with Debjani Bhattacharyya

Center for the Advanced Study of India

"Urbanism at Water’s Edge: The Fluid Histories of Property in Calcutta," a book talk featuring Debjani Bhattacharyya (Assistant Professor of History, Drexel University)in conversation with Gautam Nair (CASI Postdoctoral Research Fellow)

24mins

9 Jun 2020

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