Event — IIAS lecture

Connections and disconnections: Rethinking 'Bengal' in linking the trans-Himalayan region and the Bay of Bengal

A lecture by Jayati Bhattacharya, Senior Research Associate at the South Asian Studies Program (SASP), National University of Singapore.

This is a hybrid event, meaning you can attend it in person or online. It will be streamed and recorded, but only the speaker will be filmed, not the audience.

Time: 13:30 – 14:45 p.m. Amsterdam Time (CEST).

Please use the web form on this page to sign up to attend in person or online. We will reserve a seat for you or send you a Zoom link about two days before the lecture.

The Lecture

The connected histories of ‘Bengal’ (mostly covering present West Bengal in India and Bangladesh) and its eastern neighbours have always been a ‘periphery’ in both popular and academic imaginations. This talk focuses on Bengal’s synergies through overland trans-Himalayan regions and the maritime worlds of the Bay of Bengal with well-connected routes and networks across China, Southeast Asia and the world to alter the lenses of our vision in re-conceptualizing the centre and the periphery, connections and disconnections. The ‘disconnect’ here does not refer to the antithesis of ‘connection’ but to silences and organized visuals created to render some aspects of the past invisible, which have been carefully curated and nurtured to create new levels of connections and cooperation between emerging and interested stakeholders. The disruptions, one may argue, had assertively begun and were driven fervently by colonial commerce and competition, transforming the imagination of landscapes perennially despite accelerating Bengal’s prosperity, fame and name at a global level as a prominent seat of British commercial and political power. Following the legacy of the colonial ventures and more ardently followed through nation-state centricity of a post-colonial Asia, the ‘connection’ and the ‘disconnection’ would then reflect the interplay of visibility and invisibility in the multiple contesting and overlapping landscapes invoked as geopolitical claims.

The Speaker

Jayati Bhattacharya is a Senior Research Associate at the South Asian Studies Programme (SASP), National University of Singapore. She has worked as a Senior Lecturer at SASP and has been a part of the faculty at NUS since 2012. She completed her PhD in modern Indian business history from the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has more than fifteen years of teaching and research experience in business history, Indian trade diaspora, inter-Asian networks, and Indian transnationalism. She has deeply studied the Indian business communities and trade networks in Singapore and the Bay of Bengal region. Some of her publications include Beyond the Myth: Indian Business Communities in Singapore (Singapore: ISEAS, 2011) and a co-edited volume, Indian and Chinese Communities Comparative Perspectives (London: Anthem, ISEAS, 2015). She has contributed to the Routledge Handbook of Indian Transnationalism (2019) and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History (2019). Beyond Singapore, she has initiated an informal network of global scholars working on the Bay of Bengal. 

Email: jayati2@gmail.com

Registration (required)

Please use the web form below to sign up to attend in person (at IIAS) or online. We will reserve a seat for you or send you a Zoom link about two days before the lecture.