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Circulation on the Ganges, 1700-1900

Dr. Nitin Sinha

This project-proposal is about the history of circulation on the river Ganges in the north and east of India between 1700 and 1900. The proposal aims to address the issues of mobility from two vantage points: first, by treating the Ganges, as it was, a means of communication and therefore a medium for facilitating diverse nature of travel, and second, to look at the river per se as a flowing medium which was entwined with the act of travel. If the first approach, if not necessarily than at least supposedly, treats a channel/medium/means of communication as a “physical track”, a fixed physical and abstract entity on which people and goods moved then the second approach actually contradicts this rather simplistic understanding by arguing that such means and mediums operate in a social context. They are therefore over a period of time imputed with diverse social meanings which might be competing, accommodating and adaptive. The main thrust of the proposal is to attain a synthesis between these two approaches and to further our understanding on the notion of circulation in which the social constructions of means of communication were as much important, if not more, than theirs being just the physical medium of promoting mobility.