Centre for World Environmental History

Aditya Ramesh


Aditya is a doctoral candidate in the history department at SOAS. Trained in environmental history, the history of modern South Asia and the British Empire, his research examines ideas and practices of river improvement, technocratic governance, natural resources and agrarian histories of colonial and postcolonial India. His doctoral dissertation, 'Water technocracy: dams, “public works”'and development in colonial south India’, studies the rise of the first multipurpose river valley projects in colonial India, on the river Cauvery in south India. It shows how colonial and global capitalism stimulated the development of multipurpose reservoirs, and how rivers emerged as central to the twentieth century economy.


Graduate Research Associate


BA (Hons) History, University of Delhi 2008-2011

MA History, SOAS London 2012-2013

PhD History, SOAS London 2014-present 

Current Research

Currently, Aditya is working on converting his doctoral dissertation into a book, which examines the colonial and native manipulations and the contested histories of the Cauvery river, one of South India’s most important rivers.

Aditya is planning a postdoctoral research project on the history of oil in South and Southeast Asia.

General Themes

Environmental History; natural resources; water; energy; historical geography; critical agrarian studies


Peer Reviewed Articles

“Custom as Natural: Land, Water, and Law in Colonial Madras,” Studies in History 33:1 (February 2018): 1-19.

“The work of tanks: maintenance, ‘protective works’ and ecology in colonial south India,” Manuscript completed for submission to Water History

Review Essay

“Scientific Commodities, Imperial Dreams,” History and Philosophy of Science Part C 60 (December 2016): 88-91

Other Writing

“Research note on the Tamilnadu State Archives (TNSA) collections,”  Joint Centre for History and Economics at Cambridge University and Harvard University. Can be accessed at http://www.histecon.magd.cam.ac.uk/archives-asia/blogs/ramesh.html