086: Environmental history with Mahesh Rangarajan

In this episode Hita spoke with Prof. Mahesh Rangarajan, Vice Chancellor of Krea University, India and a Professor of History and Environmental Studies at the University. They discussed what it means to be a historian, the importance of intellectual exchange and cooperation across different stages of career, and the environmental history of large charismatic mammals in south Asia. Some non-English words that occur through the episode include: 

  • Padyatra: A journey undertaken by foot, usually with some social purpose behind it
  • Pindaris: Thugs or bandits as referred to in colonial literature
  • Valmiki Ramayana: An epic poem of India, revolving around the story of Rama and Sita, and composed by a sage named Valmiki
  • Apharan: Kidnap
  • Haathi mere saathi: (Translation: My friend, the elephant) a yesteryear Bollywood movie revolving around the friendship between an elephant and its human
  • Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Baroda: Erstwhile princely states of India
  • Yuvraj: Younger prince, not the heir apparent
  • Bengalis: People from the eastern Indian state of Bengal
  • Ghee: clarified butter
  • Ser: Obsolete unit of dry volume of India, often considered equivalent to a litre

Mahesh’s institutional website: https://krea.edu.in/mahesh-rangarajan-phd/

References mentioned in the interview:

  1. Keen, Maurice. 2000. The outlaws of medieval legend. 3rd edition. Routledge.
  2. Simon Schama on libraries: https://talking-about-books.com/2016/07/06/simon-schama-on-the-london-library-financial-times/
  3. Trauttman, Thomas R. 2015. Elephants and kings: an environmental history. University of Chicago Press.
  4. Elvin, Mark. 2006. The retreat of the elephants: an environmental history of China. Yale University Press. 
  5. Chaudhuri, Nirad Singh. 1951. Autobiography of an unknown Indian. Macmillan
  6. Demuth, Bathsheba. 2020. Floating coast: an environmental history of the Bering Strait. WW Norton. 
  7. Corbett, Jim. 1948. The man-eating tiger of Rudraprayag. Rupa Publications
  8. Sankhala, Kailash. 1971. The story of the Indian tiger. Collins.
  9. Guha, Ramachandra. 1989. The unquiet woods: ecological change and peasant resistance in the Himalaya. University of California Press. 
  10. Rangarajan, M. 2013. Animals with rich histories: the case of the lions of Gir Forest, Gujarat, India. History and Theory 52:4 (109-127).