Bengal Ganja: Cannabis and Empire in British India


ACLS Fellowship Program




Illicit. Drug. Two words that inevitably shape scholarship on cannabis, even its perceptible medical benefits. Bengal Ganja analyzes the history of cannabis between 1770 and 1930 when it was a licit and vibrant object, catalytic of social and cultural histories of empire in colonial South Asia. It shifts cannabis out of the Eurocentric archive of colonial medicine that has prefaced its status as drug to excavate other sites of meaning acquired through gendered agrarian systems, cosmological narratives, anticolonial politics, cooperative economics, and circuits of law and empire. It models the plant-as-method to disclose how its cultural biography across diverse archives contended with and exceeded the bounds of Britain's ambition to incorporate its social worlds into modern systems of rule.