Hooghly: The Global History of a River w/ Robert Ivermee

17 Jan 2023 – 18:30 - 20:00 GMT
The British in India Historical Trust (online)

The Hooghly was for centuries a river of global significance. Focusing on those who built settlements along its banks and struggled to control its waters, author Robert Ivermee looks at how the Hooghly provided a conduit for trade, warfare, imperialist ambitions, technological change and new ideas.

About Hooghly: The Global History of a River

A lyrical history of one of India’s great rivers—the entry-point of maritime commercial colonialism, and the life-sustaining waterway of Bengal and its former capital, Calcutta.

The Hooghly, a distributary of the Ganges flowing south to the Bay of Bengal, is now little known outside of India. Yet for centuries it was a river of truly global significance, attracting merchants, missionaries, mercenaries, statesmen, labourers and others from Europe, Asia and beyond. Hooghly seeks to restore the waterway to the heart of global history. Focusing in turn on the role of and competition between those who struggled to control the river—the Portuguese, the Mughals, the Dutch, the French and finally the British, who built their imperial capital, Calcutta, on its banks—the author considers how the Hooghly was integrated into global networks of encounter and exchange, and the dramatic consequences that ensued.

Travelling up and down the river, Robert Ivermee explores themes of enduring concern, among them the dynamics of modern capitalism and the power of large corporations; migration and human trafficking; the role of new technologies in revolutionising social relations; and the human impact on the natural world. The Hooghly’s global history, he concludes, may offer lessons for India as it emerges as a world superpower.

About the Author

Robert Ivermee is a global and imperial historian focused on colonialism in South Asia. He works in higher education management at SOAS University of London and teaches at the Catholic University of Paris.

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