Debjani Bhattacharyya's pathbreaking work is a significant contribution to global scholarship on contested coastlines. This book is invaluable in illuminating the intersection of hydrological and social relationships that make water constitutive of spaces, cultures, and knowledge systems. It is a timely intervention as delta cities across the world—Dhaka, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Venice, and others—endure the brunt of rising seas. Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta is a call to understand the watery pasts of delta cities and reclaim the seasonal and mobile histories of the marshes and chars, or “sedimentary moments” (p. 22), that the colonial state tried to fix using hydraulics, infrastructure, and legal regulations.

Locating Calcutta in a network of a mobile delta ecology marked by the temporal dimensions of space, Empire and Ecology decolonizes the perception of a city as a fixed space that colonial maps and paintings sought to...

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