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Rivers and Historical Time: Nature-human Interactions on four circum-Himalayan Rivers - Global Asia Initiative Workshop

The workshop will present four papers discussing human-nature
historical relationships on four major rivers in Asia, the Yellow River,
the Yangzi, the Mekong and the Brahmaputra. The vastly different river
ecologies of the four Asian rivers played an important part in shaping
the riverine communities as well as the ways in which the communities
attempted to utilize, control and manipulate the rivers in the
pre-modern and modern period. The rivers were significant actors in the
socio-economic, political and cultural processes on a regional, national
and international scale. Scholars have attempted to interpret this
complex human-river relationship, from the perspectives of property
rights regime, history of disasters, and fisheries, etc.

The workshop brings four scholars with deep familiarity about each of
the four rivers together in order to gain a comparative understanding of
how different communities and political powers interacted with the river
and its valleys and plains. How did the river ecology shape the
everyday life of the riverine communities? What were the local practices
in managing rivers? What were the unexpected (or semi-expected) consequences and how did communities and state manage these problems (eg floods, salinization,
sand bar and polder cultivation etc)? What are the advantages of a
long-term and comparative view of human-river relationships? In
particular, we are interested in major turning points of human-river

Contact: Rohini Thakkar