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Geography Speaker Series: Ishan Ashutosh
Geography’s Lost History in Colonial India: Environmental Determinism and Aryanism
Assistant Professor Ishan Ashutosh of the Department of Geography at Indiana University, Bloomington, will examines how the discipline of geography contributed to colonial theories of race.
By looking at the emergence of theories of Aryanism and environmentalism in the context of colonial India, it is argued that human geography developed through its interaction with Orientalism in general and Indology in particular. It begins by illuminating the geography of Aryanism as it trespassed disciplinary boundaries from its origins in Orientalism to becoming a foundational element in racial science. Second, the talk charts a new history of the discipline by exposing the influence of Aryanism in German and American geography from the mid- nineteenth to the early twentieth century. It finds that the influential geographers Oscar Peschel, Arnold Guyot, Nathaniel Shaler, Friedrich Ratzel, Ellen Semple, and Ellsworth Huntington were all indebted to Aryanism in the production of their theories of environmentalism.