South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - The Odisha Coastline Along the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Oceanic Exchange of Cholera, c.19th Century

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Marigold, New Building

Taking up the idea that waterways (large and small) link people and ideas at times in unpredictable and unrecognized ways, this paper turns to the history of infectious disease to understand the networks of movement and exchange that traversed the Bay of Bengal and its riverine arteries. By focusing on the connection between oceanic spaces and the rivers, canals, and arterial waterways that contributed to the flow of commerce in the 19th century, this paper interrogates the role of the Bay of Bengal in the larger, global history of cholera. Being home to at least two of the four cholera pandemics that took place in the 19th century, the Bay of Bengal occupies an interesting place in the larger history of infectious disease. Recognizing the importance of the town of Puri—that fronts the Bay of Bengal along the Odisha coast—as a chief site of Hindu pilgrimage, this paper attempts to highlight how the pilgrimage–driven mobility to and from Odisha during the 19th century via its coastline and river routes contributed to the inter-state and subsequently inter-continental spread of cholera. This paper thus interrogates the little nuggets that together make up the Indian Ocean, and presents their contributions to the larger narrative of intercontinental Indian oceanic exchanges of men, disease, and ideas of treatment.

Pallavi Das

University of Delhi, India

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3 - The Odisha Coastline Along the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Oceanic Exchange of Cholera, c.19th Century



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