Mapping Water Histories in the Kavery Basin, Southern India

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Research Support Office


This project is a collaboration with the Map Collections and Digital Scholarship Service at the
National Library of Scotland (NLS) and is designed to create new understandings of environmental
pasts and presents in Southern India. The project has two interconnected and innovative aims: 1.
to use the spatial humanities to produce original insights into the water histories of the Kavery
Basin, and 2. to examine the representation of water resources and scarcity in the cartographic
archive, from post-conquest surveys to satellite imagery.

The collaborative project will use the NLS's extensive South Asian map collection as a basis for
research into changing patterns of water exploitation in the Kavery Basin from the second half of
the nineteenth century to the present. The project will explore the complex socio-economic
conditions of water access and usage, including considerations of caste, gender, technology,
property and community governance. The aim of the project is to use innovative digital methods
to create a water history that connects local histories of water to broader patterns of water
politics, governance and management (Saikia 2019). The project will interrogate the
disambiguation of land and water that began in post-conquest cartographies of the earlynineteenth
century and was elaborated in the cultures of governance, planning, revenue and
resource management that endure to the present. The work will encompass water in all its forms,
to include aquifers, temple tanks, riverine systems, domestic water supplies, industrial
exploitation, hydraulic interventions (dams, embankments, canals), rainfall and floods. The
research will draw on a wide-range of textual materials in addition to maps, including
bureaucratic proceedings and government orders, revenue reports, famine commissions,
statistical accounts, medical topographies and literary representations of water.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000665/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2387297 Studentship ES/P000665/1 01/10/2020 08/02/2025 Charlotte Evans