Speaker: Arupjyoti Saikia (Professor of history at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati)
Title: A Discussion on Prof. Saikia’s recent book “The Quest for Modern Assam: A History, 1942 to 2000″ (Penguin, 2023)
Discussant: Madhumita Sengupta (HSS | IITGN)
Arupjyoti Saikia is a professor of history at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. He held the Agrarian Studies Programme Fellowship at Yale University and visiting fellow positions at Cambridge University and School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London amongst others.
Saikia is the author of Forests and Ecological History of Assam, 1826-2000 (Oxford University Press, 2011), A Century of Protests: Peasant Politics in Assam since 1900 (Rutledge, 2014) and The Unquiet River: An Environmental History of the Brahmaputra (Oxford University Press, 2019). The Unquiet River was short-listed for Kamala Devi Chattopadhayay Book Award in 2020 and long listed for Atta Galatta–Bangalore Literature Festival Book Prize in 2020 and got ‘Honorable Mention’ for Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize in 2021 given by the Association of Asian Studies.
The crucial battles of World War II fought in India’s northeast—followed soon after by Independence and Partition—had a critical impact on the making of modern Assam. In the three decades following 1947, the state of Assam underwent massive political turmoil, geographical instability, and social and demographic upheaval, among others. Later, the truncated state suffered widespread unrest as various groups believed their cultural identity and political leverage were under threat. New social energies and political forces were unleashed and came to the fore.
The Quest for Modern Assam explores the interconnected layers of political, environmental, economic, and cultural processes that shaped the development of Assam since the 1940s. It offers an authoritative account that sets new standards in the writing of regional political history. Not to be missed by any one keen on Assam, India, Asia or world history in the 20th century.