384 pages, 9 maps
This is a history of the political, social, and environmental transformation of the Indus basin as a result of the modern construction of the world's largest, integrated irrigation system. Historically a largely arid region with a mix of agriculture and pastoralism, the Indus basin became one of the world's most heavily irrigated river basins by the second half of the twentieth century. Begun under British colonial rule in the nineteenth century, this transformation continued after the region was divided between two new states, India and Pakistan, in 1947. This is the first large-scale environmental history of the Indus basin and explores how environmental transformation is tied to the formation of communities and nations, focusing on the intersection between politics, statecraft, and the environment.
"An impressive achievement by a masterful historian. The book stands as the single most authoritative text on irrigation development in the Indus River basin from the nineteenth century to the present."
– David Ludden, author of India and South Asia: A Short History
"A clear, compelling, and carefully documented study. It will inspire students and scholars beyond South Asian Studies and the modern history of colonial encounters."
– K. Sivaramakrishnan, Professor of Anthropology, Yale University
1. Introduction: Community and Environment
2. Irrigation and the Baloch Frontier
3. Community on the Waste: The Village and the Colonial Property Order
4. Statute and Custom in Water Law
5. Science, the State, and the Environment
6. The River Basin and Partition
7. The Indus Waters Treaty and its Afterlives
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David Gilmartin is Distinguished Professor of History at North Carolina State University.