Centre for World Environmental History

photo of Vinita Damodaran

Dr Vinita Damodaran

Post:Senior Lecturer in South Asian History (History)
Other posts:Senior Lecturer in History (International Development)
Location:Arts A A163
Email:V.Damodaran@sussex.ac.uk

Telephone numbers
Internal:2222
UK:01273 606755 ext. 2222
International:+44 1273 606755 ext. 2222

Research expertise:
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Biography

Dr Damodaran is a historian of modern India. Her work ranges from the social and political history of Bihar to the environmental history of South Asia, including using historical records to understand climate change in the Indian Ocean World. Her publications include; Broken Promises, Indian Nationalism and the Congress Party in Bihar (1992),  Nature and the Orient, Essays on the Environmental History of South and South-East Asia(1998) and Post Colonial India, History Politics and Culture (2000), British empire and the natural world: environmental encounters in South Asia, (2010) She is also the author of several articles in established journals. She is particularly interested in questions of identity and resistance and is completing a manuscript on landscape and indigeneity in Chotanagpur. An experienced researcher and teacher she is the director of the Centre for World Environmental History at Sussex. The centre is host to several research projects and a number of research associates. Dr Damodaran has had several research grants for her work from the ESRC, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy and the AHRC. She is currently leading an AHRC network project on the botanical and meterological history of the Indian Ocean 2012-2014. The centre collaborates actively with Kew Gardens, the British Library, the U.K. Met office and several international institutions both in India and elsewhere  such as JNU, Delhi the Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata and Mcgill University, Canada. She is engaged in building up the profile of South Asian studies and environmental history at the University of Sussex and internationally. She currently supervises 4 Phd students and is mentoring several post-doctoral scholars. Her recent talks include,  

June, 2008, Savage attack, reinterpreting adivasi movements in South Asia, University of London

August, 2008, Nature,knowledge and power in South Asia, University of Uppsala (conference consultant)

August 2005-2010 Sussex co-coordinator of the EU funded Cliohresnet project on research agendas for the new Europe and contributer to thier bi-annual meetings on Europe and the wider world.

March 2009, Asian environments shaping the world, National University of Singapore

April, 2009 Panel organiser, Environmental histories of South Asia, BASAS meeting, Edinburgh

October, 2009, Public lecture on 'Gandhi and his practice of politics' Bengali Society of Oxford

March 2010, 'Place and agency, landscape narratives of Singhbhum' University of Sussex

June 2010, organisor of CWEH summer workshop 'Themes in Global Environmental History', University of Sussex

July 2010, Panel convenor, Environment and empire, Anglo American conference, London

March 2011, AHRC invitee for conference on South Asian Historical records and climate change, Bangalore

May, 2011, IHR, seminar on Comparative histories of Asia, London

May 2011, University of Sussex, Conference Organiser, Botany, climate and empire

June, 2011, Historic weather workshop, U.K. Met office, Exeter

July 2011, University of Exeter, Plenary speaker, Environment and Identity

Sep, 2011, KNMI, Netherlands, 4th ACRE Workshop

December, 2011, Natural History Museum, London, 'Nathanial Wallich and Indian natural History'

June 2012, Past and Present conference on Heritage in the modern world, Brighton

June 2012,organiser, University of Sussex, workshop on  Electrifying Europe, the future generation of electricity and the supergrid

Dec, 2012 AHRC network on the botanical and meterological history of the Indian Ocean, Sussex

May 2013, Utopian Archives, AHRC meeting UEA, Norwich

August, 2013 AHRC network Botanical and meterological history of the Indian Ocean, Delhi

November, 2013 RCUK invitee, Delhi meeting, Food, water, energy nexus

December, 2013 Inaugural lecture  on 'Natural heritage and colonial legacies in nineteenth century India', Indira Gandhi Institute of Sustainable development, Somerville College Oxford,

December, 2013 'A woman in science' SOAS, London South Asia seminar

April, 2014, 'Dynamics of urbanisation in India' seminar participant LSE

April 2014, Speaker at World Meterological Organisation meeting, WMO, Maputo 'Indian Ocean Data Rescue'

Directorships and Memberships and positions

Council Member, British Academy Society for South Asian Studies, 2003-2006

Member, Association of South Asian environmental historians, 2006-

University of Sussex, Senate member, 2007- 2009, 2012-

Member editorial board International journal of Development and Social research

Member, editorial board, Oecology international review of environmental history

Member programme committee Anglo-American conference on environments 2010

External Examiner, SOAS, University of London,  2009-2013

Co-Editor, Book series in World Environmental History, Palgrave

Director, Centre for World Environmental History, University of Sussex

Project consultant

Kew Gardens and the Natural History Museum on Indian garden drawings collections, 2009

British Library, Endangered Archives and World Collections project, 2009

Natural History Museum, Wallich and Indian Natural history, 2011

Coordinator for Sussex MOU with BL and MET office on historical records and climate change, 2012

Academic consultant on Natural History Museum Video, Art and Empire, Images of Nature Gallery, 2013-2014

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/art-nature-imaging/collections/india-collection/history-and-context/index.html

 

Community and Business

She is part of a Sussex network liasing with Indian corporations over their CSR policy in Eastern India. She also runs with Zuky Serper an Academia and Activism network which is engaged in bringing the university and local communities together and creating new forms of knowledge for our sustainable future.

She is engaged in building links with libraries, musems and archives in India and the U.K. to enable digital repatriation of collections that will enable creating new archives of knowledge in regions such as South Asia. These include the Natural History Museum, Kew Garden, the British library and the Met office in the U.K. and the National Museum of Natural History, the Botanical Survey of India, The Forest Research Institute Dehradhun and the National Museum, Calcutta in India.

Recent public appearances include being part of public forum, in Brunei Gallery, London  on mining, adivasis and India's civil war with the with the Booker prize winning writer, Arundhati Roy, June 2011

http://www.soas.ac.uk/gallery/disappearingworld/05jun2011-burning-ground-mining-adivasis-and-indias-civil-war.html

Public seminar at the Gandhi Foundation in London to coincide with the award of the Gandhi peace prize, November 2011

BBC 4 Radio programme Night Waves on 'Ravages of Nature' in 2012.

Appearance on film on 'Indian orinthology a passage through time' produced by the Salim Ali institute of Orinthology and natural history, Bangalore 

http://www.cultureunplugged.com/storyteller/PA__Azeez

Appearance on Loksabha TV, Delhi in August 2013 on decolonisation of India.

Appearance in video at Natural History Museum, Art of empire in exhibition on Indian collections at Images of Nature gallery, 2013-2014

Appearance as part of Sussex team collaborating with Kew Garden on Hooker correspondence.  www.kew.org/collections/hooker/.

Speaker at World Meterological Organisation international workshop on the recovery and digitisation of climate heritage in the Indian Ocean rim countries and Islands at Maputo, Mozambique, April, 2014 and part of team on implementation of Data rescue in Indian Ocean World countries.