MWF OPUS Workshop: The Making of Agrarian Worlds with Neeladri Bhattacharya

22 August 2023

In the MWF OPUS series of workshops with distinguished scholars, participants read and critically engage with a selection of texts from the opus of respective scholars. This workshop will focus on the scholarship of historian Neeladri Bhattacharya whose work has been on the making of the colonial rural order, on custom, law, and colonialism, on colonial power and discourse, and on history and theory. Participants of this workshop will read a set of texts about the reshaping of agrarian worlds under colonialism and raise questions about: (a) the transformation of landscapes, identities, practices, markets (b) the usefulness of categories from existing literature like peasant, wage labourer, nomad and pedlar (c) the different methods of writing social history (d) the changing scholarly fortunes of scholarship on agrarian themes and the possibilities of a resurgence of contemporary interest (e) the practice of using the colonial archive as a source for history-writing (f) the contemporary politics of representing social histories in textbooks for schoolchildren.

Neeladri Bhattacharya taught at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University for many decades (1976-2017). He has been an Agatha Harrison Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford, and has held visiting appointments in Europe, South Africa and the United States. His recent publications include The Great Agrarian Conquest: The Colonial Reshaping of a Rural World, Permanent Black, 2018, SUNY 2019; with Ramin Jahanbegloo and Romila Thapar, Talking History: Conversations with Romila Thapar, OUP 2017; co-edited with Joy Pachuau, Landscape, Culture and Belonging: Writing the History of Northeast India, CUP, 2018. Bhattacharya has been co-editor of the book series Themes in Indian History (Oxford University Press) and the journal Studies in History (Sage), and editor of Tracts for the Times (Orient Blackswan) –  a series on issues of contemporary concern. He was Chief Advisor of the NCERT history textbooks for schools, produced between 2005-08. Currently, he is working on a book on law, violence, and the cultural politics of colonial governance, and another one on the embedded histories of cultural objects focussing on the Koh-i-Noor.

Cite this blog post
mwfdelhi (2023, August 7). MWF OPUS Workshop: The Making of Agrarian Worlds with Neeladri Bhattacharya. Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies (MWF Delhi). Retrieved May 26, 2024, from

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