Jalais, Tigers, Tiger Food, and Mental Health in the Sundarbans

In our latest episode of the Indian Ocean World Podcast, Prof. Annu Jalais, an anthropologist and an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore, talks about the Sundarbans, the largest delta in the world that sprawls across India and Bangladesh along the Bay of Bengal. The Sundarbans supports a unique biodiverse environment of mangroves, tigers, crocodiles, snakes, and humans. Prof. Jalais tells us how she developed an interest in the region as a high school student; why it’s imperative for any researcher to understand the forests and its tigers before writing historical and anthropological studies of the Sundarbans; and how the relationship between humans and nonhumans, especially tigers, have highlighted the narratives of development and politics around it in the Sundarbans. Prof. Jalais also discusses a serious impact of climate change in the Sundarbans: disaster fatigue resulting from ever shifting river embankments that change the contours of forested and inhabited lands, regular cyclones, and close encounters with nonhumans (tigers, crocodiles, and snakes) that often have a telling effect on the mental health of the inhabitants of the Sundarbans.
Links:
Bio page: https://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/sasja/

Our “Southern Collective” website on the northern Indian Ocean: https://www.thesoutherncollective.org/
Map of the Sundarbans region (it keeps changing so download it from here): https://www.pinterest.com/pin/280771358005284524/
Image: Wikicommons – Sundarban Tiger [https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sundarban_Tiger.jpg]

Goldstein, Indonesia’s Peatlands and Environmental Politics

In this podcast, the IOWC interviews Professor Jenny Goldstein of Cornell University on her research into Indonesia’s peat lands. Her interview offers a discussion of her unique journey from architecture to geography, and an in-depth explanation of how the Indonesian peat lands became her subject of study. She further explores the value of so-called degraded lands from a biodiversity and regenerative standpoint, exploring diverse techniques of rice growth in Peatland environments. Moreover, Professor Goldstein offers a nuanced understanding of how the development of oil palm plantations on Indonesia’s peat lands has had multiple effects, including production of divergent scientific knowledge on whether oil palm plantations across Indonesia’s peat lands lead to more carbon emissions or not, how these debates shape legislations concerning agriculture and forests in Indonesia, and what could be the climatic impact of such policies eventually.

Relevant Links:

Links to relevant publications:

This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

Image: Patrice Levang. Smoldering peat soil in rice paddy, Central Kalimantan, late 1997. 

Muralidharan, Hortus Malabaricus

Meera Muralidharan, a doctoral researcher at the School of History, Victoria University, Wellington, discusses her paper, ‘Hortus Malabaricus: Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the Production of Natural History Knowledge in Malabar (1678-1693),’ which won the Research Excellence Award at the Victoria University Awards in 2019 and is a part of her doctoral research. Key themes include global transfers of knowledge, human migration, colonial science, and modern environmental history.

For more on Meera’s work, see her profile at: https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/nziri/fellows/associate-fellows/meera-g-muralidharan

Also, see her recent publication:

‘Cross-Cultural Interactions and Missionary Writings in the Context of the Dutch East India Company, c. 1600–72’ in Malabar in the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism in a Maritime Historical Region, eds. Mahmood Kooria and M.N. Pearson (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018).

 

Winterbottom, ‘Becoming Traditional’: A transnational history of neem and biopiracy discourses

Dr. Anna Winterbottom (McGill) discusses with Renee Manderville, Archisman Chaudhuri, and Philip Gooding her forthcoming journal article, ‘”Becoming traditional”: A transnational history of neem and biopiracy discourses,’ which is due to be published in 2021 in Osiris. The article is part of a special issue entitled ‘Global medical cultures, properties and laws,’ and explores the shifting uses and cultural meanings of neem, a tree of the mahogany family native to South and Southeast Asia, over time and space. Specifically, the article and the podcast discussion examine how neem became associated with the idea of ‘traditional’ Indian medicine as Western medical companies sought patents on neem derivatives in the 1990s.

For more on the special issue from which the article is taken, see: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/journals/osiris/forthcoming

For more on Dr. Winterbottom’s work, see her IOWC profile.

Also, please check out Dr. Winterbottom’s seminal monograph, Hybrid Knowledge in the early East India Company world (London: Palgrave 2016).

Serels, Animal diseases as threats to state power in the SRSR

Dr. Steven Serels (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient) discusses with Renee Manderville, Philip Gooding, and Archisman Chaudhuri (all IOWC) his research into animal diseases as threats to state power in the history of the Southern Red Sea Region (SRSR). The discussion weaves around diseases to camels, horses, and cattle, and brings up key themes of human-environment interaction, military uses for animals, colonial rule, and global climatic anomalies. 

More details of Dr. Serels work can be found at: https://www.zmo.de/personen/dr-steven-serels

Please also check out especially his two monographs:

Ondaatje, Animal Ascension

Akash Ondaatje, a recently graduated Masters candidate at Queens University, discusses with Renee Manderville and Philip Gooding (both IOWC) his thesis, ‘Animal Ascension: Elevation and Debasement Through Human-Animal Associations in English Satire, 1700 -1820,’ thus continuing our recent theme on animal studies, and tracing the lives of some IOW animals into European cultural frameworks.

Ondaatje is now working at KnowHistory (https://knowhistory.ca/) as a Research Associate of Indigenous genealogies. His Masters thesis can be found here: https://qspace.library.queensu.ca/handle/1974/27991

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Govindrajan, Animal Intimacies

Prof. Radhika Govindrajan (University of Washington) joins Renee Manderville, Archisman Chaudhuri, and Philip Gooding (all IOWC) to discuss her award winning book, Animal Intimacies: Interspecies relatedness in India’s Central Himalayas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018). Animal Intimacies explores what ­it means to live and die in relation to other animals, alongside the intimate—and intense—moments of care, kinship, violence, politics, indifference, and desire that occur between human and non-human animals.

For more on the book, see: https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/A/bo28301734.html

For more on Prof. Govindrajan’s work, see her bio at: https://anthropology.washington.edu/people/radhika-govindrajan

Chaiklin and Gooding, Animal Trade Histories in the Indian Ocean World

Martha Chaiklin and Philip Gooding discuss with Archisman Chaudhuri their recently published edited volume, Animal Trade Histories in the Indian Ocean World (Cham, CH: Palgrave, 2020). As part of their discussion, they explore themes including, animals in world history, animals’ relationships to climate change and the anthropocene/capitalocene debate, methodologies for studying animal histories, and cultural symbolisms of animals resulting from trade.

The book is available in ebook and hardcover format.

Kalacska and Lucanus, Land Cover and Freshwater Fish in Madagascar

Prof. Margaret Kalacska and Mr. Oliver Lucanus (both McGill) discuss with Renee Manderville, Archisman Chaudhuri, and Philip Gooding (all IOWC, McGill) their project, Fish and Forest. This interdisciplinary work uses data from historical aerial photography, satellite imagery, and new information captured by UAV and in-situ observations to investigate and document the historical changes in the habitat of threatened aquatic species. In so doing, it seeks to explain the link between the disappearance of highly endemic and specialized fishes and the loss of forest.

Video:

Audio:

For more on their project, see: http://fishandforests.geog.mcgill.ca/

For more on Prof. Kalacska’s work, see: https://www.mcgill.ca/geography/people-0/kalacska

For related publications, see:

Podcast Episode 6 – Bhattacharyya, Empire and Ecology

Professor Debjani Bhattacharyya, Drexel University, joins Renee Manderville, Philip Gooding, and Archisman Chaudhuri, all from the IOWC, to discuss her book: Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The making of Calcutta (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), as well as some of her work in progress on credit, climate, and calamity in the Bay of Bengal.

For more on Prof. Bhattacharyya’s work, see her bio: https://drexel.edu/coas/faculty-research/faculty-directory/DebjaniBhattacharyya/

For more on the book we discuss in this podcast see: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/empire-and-ecology-in-the-bengal-delta/4741DB240F1EACD9E1AFDDDFD9EE74AA