Malcolm Sen

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Compelling intellectual interest, theme, or question:

How does the inclusion of climate, geography and meteorological processes (like the annual monsoon in the Bay of Bengal) transform our understanding of modernity and capitalism? How do resource frontiers configure in our understanding of state boundaries?

Provisional sketch of essay:

Proposed Topic: Climate, Culture and Commodity in the Bay of Bengal

The paradigms of coloniality and modernity are undergoing a major transition as the discipline of history is increasingly inflected by the earth systems sciences and geology. The exceptionally large-scale species narratives offered by stratigraphical analyses, reveal insightful methods that help us reframe our stories of state formation and sovereignty, sustenance and sustainability. To speak of the Longue Dureé in such a framework is simultaneously to make a claim about the future. I wish to concentrate on such questions by paying attention to the climate dynamics underwriting the history and future habitability of the Bay Bengal region. Commodities in question will be historically relevant ones, such as rice and opium. But I also wish to concentrate on the crucial importance of water (both riverine and oceanic) as a driver of geology and history for this region.