Mental Maps of Pre-Colonial Bengal
By Dr Richard David Williams
Although cartography was limited in South Asia before the eighteenth century, many early modern literary texts provide rich descriptions of landscapes and routes covered on specific journeys. When poets explored their local surroundings or the wider world through verse, the distance between points on the imagined map proved extremely subjective. Each writer had an idiosyncratic sense of a significant geography and carved out their own landscape, highlighting certain sites important to them and occluding others.
What can these literary, imagined maps tell us about pre-colonial Bengal, and how Bengalis understood the world around them? Using an eighteenth-century travelogue cum pilgrimage record, the Tirthamangal, as my starting point, I will consider the different, overlapping geographies that stemmed from Bengal before the region was re-imagined under colonialism.
Dr Richard David Williams is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford. He researches the cultural history of early modern and colonial north India, with particular interests in theology, literature, and music.
BENGAL HISTORY WEEK
8-16 OCTOBER 2016
Brick Lane Circle’s is organising its Seventh Annual Bengal History Week during 8-16 October 2016, which aims to help generate greater levels of interest on the learning of the history of Bengal.
For details please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07914119282 www.bricklanecircle.org