Commodity Capitalism and Agrarian Politics in 20th Century South Asia

Spring 2023 GGR Recipient

Ayan Sharma (History)

How did British colonial efforts to expand “commodity frontiers” come to shape environmental changes on one hand and contestations over belonging, citizenship and territory on the other in South Asia? My Ph.D. project proposes to address this question by investigating how the commodity crop of jute — India’s single biggest export earner from the early 1900s  — shaped economic, agrarian, and political transformations in eastern South Asia in the long twentieth century. As an enquiry into the conjoined history of modern South Asia and the British Empire, my project thus hopes to uncover the deep interconnections between business, politics and ecology in the late-colonial and the postcolonial world.