The Indus River Basin as Sovereign Space: Nature and the Partition of India
November 30, 2017 - 16:15-18:00
The Indus Basin of contemporary India and Pakistan witnessed the development under British colonial rule of the largest, integrated irrigation system in the world. The development of this system not only transformed production in the region, but also came to play an important role in the ideological justifications for British rule. The bifurcation of the river basin at the time of partition in 1947 thus signaled a crisis both in water management and in the linking of the sovereign claims of both India and Pakistan to control over nature. This talk will examine the history of the basin’s development and the consequences that ensued from partition.
David Gilmartin is Distinguished Professor of History at North Carolina State University and the author of Empire and Islam: Punjab and the Making of Pakistan. His most recent book, Blood and Water: The Indus River Basin in Modern History (2015), examines the intersection between environmental and political history over the last 200 years.