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.
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]

McQuade, A Genealogy of Terrorism

Dr. Joseph McQuade (University of Toronto) discusses his recent published book, A Genealogy of Terrorism: Colonial law and the origins of an idea (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2020), as well as his ongoing postdoctoral research.

In A Genealogy of Terrorism, McQuade demonstrates how the modern concept of terrorism was shaped by colonial emergency laws dating back into the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Beginning with the ‘thugs’, ‘pirates’, and ‘fanatics’ of the nineteenth century, McQuade traces the emerging and novel legal category of ‘the terrorist’ in early twentieth-century colonial law, ending with an examination of the first international law to target global terrorism in the 1930s. Drawing on a wide range of archival research and a detailed empirical study of evolving emergency laws in British India, he argues that the idea of terrorism emerged as a deliberate strategy by officials seeking to depoliticize the actions of anti-colonial revolutionaries, and that many of the ideas embedded in this colonial legislation continue to shape contemporary understandings of terrorism today.

Interviewer: Philip Gooding (IOWC); Producer: Renee Manderville (IOWC).

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).

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



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

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