Ganga and the Pulse of Indian History

South Asia Seminar

For more information

A history of the Ganges and how it came to occupy a centre-stage in the history and culture of the Indian sub-continent

This event replaces the talk Partition Refugees and National Development in India originally scheduled for this date.

Originating in the Himalayas and flowing into the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges is India’s most important and sacred river. In this unprecedented work, historian Sudipta Sen unravels the story of the Ganges, from the communities that arose on its banks to merchants that navigated its waters, and how it came to occupy a center-stage in the history and culture of the subcontinent. Sen begins his chronicle in prehistoric and ancient India, tracing the river’s first settlers, its myths of origin in the Hindu tradition, and its significance during the ascendancy of popular Buddhism. Through subsequent centuries, Indian empires, Central Asian regimes, European merchants, the British Empire, and the Indian nation-state, all have shaped the identity and ecology of the river. Weaving together geography, environmental politics, and religious history, Sen’s lavishly illustrated volume, Ganges: the Many Pasts of an Indian River, is a remarkable portrait of one of the world’s largest and most densely populated river basins.

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Sudipta Sen is Professor of History and Director of the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program, University of California, Davis. Sen has taught at Beloit College, University of California, Berkeley, and Syracuse University. He is the author of Empire of Free Trade: The English East India Company and the Making of the Colonial Marketplace (1998) and Distant Sovereignty: National Imperialism and the Origins of British India (2002). A former Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research fellow and Senior Fellow at the National Endowment for the Humanities, he won the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for research and teaching at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. 

Image: William Hodges, A View of the Fort of Allahabad (1787), [British Library X307(20)]


Name: Ganga and the Pulse of Indian History
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546