ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Amalendu Guha (1924-2015)

Historian, teacher, public intellectual, Amalendu Guha was a pioneer in more ways than one. His forays into Assam's history established him as one of India's foremost economic historians. Guha's insights on the complex interplay of social and economic forces informed his studies on India's business communities and he was also amongst the earliest Indian historians to draw attention to the ways in which geography infl uences history.

The Historical Geography of the Assam Violence

The violence in western Assam where armed groups attacked Bengali-speaking Muslims and Bodos needs to be understood in the context of long-term processes of ecological, economic and social change within the larger framework of colonialism and the modern state. Unless the state and its institutions recognise these interconnected linkages, the confl ict will keep recurring, like it has for the past many decades.

Genius of Bhupen Hazarika

Bhupen Hazarika (1926-2011) emerged as a central figure in Assam giving voice to the aspirations and imagination of Assamese nationalism. Despite his deep-rootedness in his own cultural context, his music and ideas were universal and constantly engaged with the people in a dialogic process.

Early Twentieth Century Agrarian Assam: A Brief and Preliminary Overview

Unlike the rest of the subcontinent, Assam retained many elements of its tribal economy well into the 19th century. With the British invasion the picture began to change gradually. Opening up of the Brahmaputra Valley in 1826 brought about two major changes in the mode of surplus extraction. One, colonial capital flowed into tea plantations, along with indentured labourers from mainland India. Though immensely profitable for the planters, this had a limited impact on the larger peasant economy of Assam. A more fundamental second change - spurred by the revenue of the colonial state, infusion of merchant capital and immigration of peasants from East Bengal - started a process of land alienation, commercialisation and indebtedness. In time, the agrarian economy of Assam started to resemble, and become firmly integrated with, the rest of the subcontinent. This essay examines a few aspects of this economic change.

Kaziranga National Park: History, Landscape and Conservation Practices

In an atmosphere marked by a growing confrontation, the Assam Forest Department and a dominant section of the Assamese nationalists and conservationists argue that the Kaziranga National Park is facing imminent danger from its neighbouring habitats. The poor farmers, fishermen, and petty traders in the neighbourhood refuse to give up their land and be rehabilitated. This article journeys briefly into some of the issues to help understand the complex contest over both conservation practices and ownership of a prized space.

Misreading the Issues and the Landscape

This response to the comment "Protecting India's Protected Areas" by Praveen Bhargav and Shekar Dattatri (23 April 2011) points out the authors' misreading of the Forest Rights Act and also of the report of the Joint Committee on the FRA.

Imperialism, Geology and Petroleum: History of Oil in Colonial Assam

In the last quarter of the 19th century, Assam's oilfields became part of the larger global petroleum economy and thus played a key role in the British imperial economy. After decolonisation, the oilfields not only turned out to be the subject of intense competition in a regional economy, they also came to be identified with the rights of the community, threatening the federal structure and India's development paradigm. This paper is an attempt to locate the history of Assam's oil in the large imperial, global and national political economy. It re-examines the science and polity of petroleum exploration in colonial Assam.
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