The interface between the land and the sea is generally seen in terms of the influence of the ocean upon the coastal land. The research papers in this collection, however, view the ports as integral parts of their hinterlands which in some cases extended far into the interior. Thus, instead of being isolates looking seawards, portcities and port-towns were very much a part of the local, regional and subcontinental economy, society and polity.
Conceptual and methodological issues have been discussed in the first essay. The remaining studies take up Indian ports, port complexes and their hinterlands over a period of nearly four centuries, spanning the Mughal, Maratha, British and postcolonial periods. The specific port-cities and port-towns studied are Calcutta, Masulipatam, Pondicherry and Cuddalore on the east coast and Chaul, Surat, Bombay, Cambay, Broach, and Karachi on the west coast. Essays throw light on the morphology, economy, society and political organization of port-cities and their hinterlands, The studies also bring out the bearing of political change and the process of state-formation on the character and functions of ports in the pre-colonial period, and of colonial domination before and after the Industrial Revolution. These essays are based on a large variety of contemporary sources in English, French, Portuguese, Marathi, Gujarati and Rajasthani. Altogether, the eighteen studies cut across the boundaries of the disciplines of history, geography, demography, economics and sociology, and suggest several fruitful approaches for the study of the portcities and port-towns as well as Indian economy and society.
Indu Banga, Professor emerita, Panjab University, Chandigarh, and formerly Professor of history, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, has authored/edited over 15 books on agrarian, urban, institutional, social, and cultural history of medieval and modern India and the Punjab, including Agrarian System of the Sikhs (1978), Studies in Urban History (conjoint, 1981), Five Punjab Centuries (2000), The City in Indian History (2005), and Early-Nineteenth Century Panjab (conjoint, 2016).
A seminar on Ports and their Hinterlands was organized in 1990 to draw scholarly attention towards this neglected aspect of urban studies. Drawn mainly from the disciplines of history, geography and town planning, the participants in the seminar came from nearly a score of institutions and universities from within India and abroad. The present collection contains revised versions of the papers presented to the seminar.
The volume also includes presentations by Professors Ashin Das Gupta and Sinnappal Arasaratnam made in the symposium of the Urban History Association of India held at Calcutta in January 1991. Professor J.S. Grewal was kind enough to prepare the transcription for the press. He also revised the late Professor C.D. Sharma's paper for this volume. We are grateful to Professor Grewal for providing institutional and personal support in several other ways too. We are also grateful to Professor Ravinder Kumar, Director Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, for his academic and institutional support.
An Urban History Group was founded under the Chairmanship of Professor S. Nurul Hasan in 1978 at the conclusion of a seminar on `Urban History in India', sponsored by the University Grants Commission and held at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amrtisar. In the year following, this group was replaced by a registered society under the name of the Urban History Association of India, with Professor S. Nurul Hasan as its President and with members drawn from the disciplines of geography, sociology, archaeology, town planning, demography and political science as well as history. For over a decade by now, the Association has organized lectures, symposia and seminars in collaboration with other academic organizations like the Indian History Congress, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, and the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. The Association has received support for some of its programmes from the Indian Council of Historical Research. The publications of the Association consist of Newsletters, Occasional Papers, and proceedings of seminars.
The present publication, entitled Ports and Their Hinterlands in India, contains papers presented to a seminar organized by the Asso-ciation in 1990 with the collaboration of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, and the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. As President of the Urban History Association of India, I am thankful to Professor Indu Bann for editing the Volume for publication. Everyone connected with the Association, I am sure, would feel happy that this volume is dedicated 63 its Founder President, Professor S. Nurul Hasan.
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