This talk will discuss a failed late eighteenth-century infrastructural venture to connect Calcutta to the Bengal delta where the depth of the water was in flux and the coastline mobile. By studying this unsuccessful project of harbor construction, which ended up as a thirty-year legal case from 1770 to 1803 beginning at the Mayor’s court in Calcutta and settled in London, this talk will ask in what manner legal debates about the amphibious spaces of marshes, sandbanks and the tidal landscape might have shaped the development of colonial geology and science of tides.
Sponsored by the South Asian Studies Council and the MacMillan Center
Debjani Bhattacharya is an assistant professor of history at Drexel University Philadelphia. She is the author of Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2018). Her work has appeared in the Economic and Political Weekly, Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East among others. In 2016-2017 she was a research fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden University.