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Willem van Schendel

1949 –
anthropology, sociology, history
South Asia, Bangladesh, Bengal, Northeast India

Curriculum vitae

1949born in Amsterdam
1968-1969Dartmouth College, USA
1975MA sociology and anthropology, University of Amsterdam
1980PhD under the supervision of O.D. van den Muijzenberg, University of Amsterdam
1980-1984assistant professor, Faculty of Societal History, Erasmus University Rotterdam
1984-1990associate professor, Faculty of Societal History, Erasmus University Rotterdam
1990-1996professor of comparative history, Faculty of Societal History, Erasmus University Rotterdam
1996-presentprofessor of modern Asian history, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Studies, University of Amsterdam


Selected publications (South Asia)

1976 Bangladesh: a bibliography with special reference to the peasantry, Amsterdam (Voorpublikatie: Nieuwe reeks / Universiteit van Amsterdam, Antropologisch-Sociologisch Centrum, Afdeling Zuid- en Zuidoost Azië 10).
1980 The odds of peasant life: processes of social and economic mobility in rural Bangladesh, s.l. – PhD thesis University of Amsterdam.
1981 Peasant mobility: the odds of life in rural Bangladesh, Assen (Studies of developing countries 25 [i.e. 26]). – Indian edition New Delhi 1982; Bengali translation: Gramin Bangladeshe Krishok Gotishilota, Dhaka 1994.
“After the limelight: longer-term effects of rural development in a Bangladesh village.” Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 13,4: 28-34.
1982 Boelboel en Firoz: een verhaal uit Bangladesh; [tek. Joke Muylwijk], Amsterdam: Bangladesh Groep Nederland.
The violence of mass poverty: towards the historical democracy of an ethnic confrontation, Amsterdam.
“Een decennium van ontgoocheling: Bangladesh 1971-1981.” Internationale Spectator 36,1: 33-41.
1983 “Regions from below: an exploration in rural Bangladesh.” In: Otto van den Muijzenberg et al. (eds), Focus on the region in Asia, Rotterdam, pp. 39-57.
1984 & Aminul Haque Faraizi, Rural labourers in Bengal, 1880 to 1980, Rotterdam (CASP 12).
Madmen of Mymensingh: peasant resistance and the colonial process in eastern India: 1823 to 1833, Rotterdam: CASO.
1985 “Rural transformation in Bangladesh and West Bengal, 1880-1980.” Journal of Social Studies 28: 17-41.
“Living and working with villagers in Rangpur: a few remarks.” In: A. Chowdhury (ed.), Pains and pleasures of fieldwork, Dhaka pp. 55-67.
1986 “Self-rescue and survival: the rural poor in Bangladesh.” South Asia 9,1: 41-59.
1988 “’Redt het land’: de jaren tachtig in Bangladesh.” Internationale Spectator 42,11: 711.
“Slow change in colonial South India: the transformation of Thanjavur.” Development and Change 19,2: 301-325.
“Bangladesh studies in the Netherlands.” South Asia Newsletter 2: 28-34.
1989 & G. Waardenburg, “South Asia studies at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.” South Asia Newsletter 4: 8-10.
1991 Three deltas: accumulation and poverty in rural Burma, Bengal and South India, New Delhi. – Bengali translation: Troyi Bodwip: Gramin Barma, Bangla O Dokkhin Bharote Punjibhobon O Daridryo, Dhaka 1999.
Terug naar de toekomst: het verleden in ontwikkeling, Hilversum. – Inaugurele rede Rotterdam.
1992 “The invention of the ‘Jummas’: state formation and ethnicity in Southeastern Bangladesh.” Modern Asian Studies 26,1: 95-128.
Reprinted in: R.H. Barnes, A. Gray and B. Kingsbury (eds), Indigenous peoples of Asia, Ann Arbor, Mich. 1995, pp. 121-144. – Bengali translation: “Jummader Abiskoron: Dokkhin-Purbo Bangladesher Rastro Shongothon O Jatigosthi Rupayoner Alekhyo.” In: Willem van Schendel and Ellen Bal (eds), Banglar Bohujati: Bangali Chhara Banglar Onnanyo Jatir Proshongo, Calcutta: International Centre for Bengal Studies, 1998, pp. 102-125.
(Ed.), Francis Buchanan in Southeast Bengal (1798): his journey to Chittagong, the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Noakhali and Comilla, [Francis Buchanan], Dhaka.
Bengali translation: Dokkhinpurbo Banglay Francis Buchanan (1798): Kumilla, Noakhali, Chottogram, Parbotyo Chottograme Tanr Bhromon, Dhaka: International Centre for Bengal Studies, 1994.
1994 & S. Bandyopadhyay and A. Dasgupta (eds), Bengal: communities, development and states, New Delhi. – Also published Dhaka 1995.
“Introduction.” In: idem, pp. 1-16.
“Op weg naar het ‘werelddorp’? Integratie-geloof en werkelijkheid.” In: J.C. Dagevos et al. (eds), Historie & integratie: drijvende krachten achter processen van integratie en desintegratie, Kampen, pp. 94-105.
1995 Reviving a rural industry: silk producers and officials in India and Bangladesh, 1880s to 1980s, Dhaka-Delhi.
1997 & Michiel Baud, “Towards a comparative history of borderlands.” Journal of World History 8,2: 211-242.
& Md. Mahbubar Rahman, “Gender and the inheritance of land: living law in Bangladesh.” In: Jan Breman, Ashwani Saith and Peter Kloos (eds), The village in Asia revisited, Delhi, pp. 237-276.
& Kirsten Westergaard (eds), Bangladesh in the 1990s: selected studies, Dhaka.
1998 & Ellen Bal (eds), Banglar Bohujati: Bangali Chhara Banglar Onnanyo Jatir Proshongo, Calcutta: International Centre for Bengal Studies).
“Bhumika: name ki eshe jay?” In: idem, pp. 7-25.
2000 & Wolfgang Mey and Aditya Kumar Dewan, The Chittagong hill tracts: living in a borderland, Bangkok. – Edition for Bangladesh: Dhaka: University Press Limited.
“Bengalis, Bangladeshis and others: Chakma visions of a pluralist Bangladesh.” In: Rounaq Jahan (ed.), Bangladesh: promise and performance, Dhaka, pp. 65-105.
2001 & Erik J. Zürcher (eds), Identity politics in Central Asia and the Muslim world: nationalism, ethnicity and labour in the twentieth century, London-New York. – Turkish translation: Orta asya ve Islâm Dünyasinda Kimlik Politikalari: 20. Yüzyilda Milliyetçilik, Etnisite ve Emek, Istanbul 2004.
“Introduction: opting out, opting in, exclusion and assimilation: states and nations in the twentieth century.” In: idem, pp. 1-12. – Turkish translaton: “Önsöz: kopma, bağlanma, dişlama ve asimilasyon: 20. yüzyilda devletler ve uluslar.” In: idem, 2004, pp. 7-21.
“Who speaks for the nation? Nationalist rhetoric and the challenge of cultural pluralism in Bangladesh.” In: idem, pp. 107-147. – Turkish translation: “Kim ulustan yana? Bangladeş’te milliyetçi söylem ve kültürel çoğulculuk talepleri.” In: idem, 2004, pp. 141-190.
Bengali translation: “Jatir hoye ke bole? Jatiyotabadi Shunnogorbho Boktrita Ebong Shangskritik Bohuttobader Protibad.” In: Willem van Schendel and Ellen Bal (eds), Banglar Bohujati: Bangali Chhara Banglar Onnanyo Jatir Proshongo, Calcutta 1998, pp. 222-263.
& Henk Schulte Nordholt (eds), Time matters: global and local time in Asian societies, Amsterdam: VU University Press.
“Time matters: an introduction.” In: idem, pp. 7-17.
“Modern times in Bangladesh.” In: idem, pp. 37-55.
2001 “Working through partition: making a living in the Bengal borderlands.” International Review of Social History 46: 393-421;
Reprinted in: Arvind N. Das and Marcel van der Linden (eds), Work and social change in Asia: essays in honour of Jan Breman, Delhi 2003, pp. 55-89; Also reprinted in: Tan Tai Yong and Gyanesh Kudaisya (eds), Partition and post-colonial South Asia: a reader, London 2007, III, pp. 170-198.
2002 “A politics of nudity: photographs of the “Naked Mru” of Bangladesh.” Modern Asian Studies 36,2: 341-374.
“Stateless in South Asia: the making of the India-Bangladesh enclaves.” The Journal of Asian Studies 61,1: 115-147.
Reprinted in: Eiki Berg and Henk van Houtum (eds), Routing borders between territories, discourses and practices, London 2003, pp. 237-274; Also reprinted in: Tan Tai Yong and Gyanesh Kudaisya (eds) Partition and post-colonial South Asia: a reader, London 2008, III, pp. 130-169; Bengali translation: “Bharot-Bangladesher Chhitmohol.” Prothom Alo (Eid Issue 2004), pp. 265-276.
“Geographies of knowing, geographies of ignorance: jumping scale in Southeast Asia.” Development and Planning D: Society and Space 20: 647-668.
Reprinted in: Paul Kratoska, Remco Raben and Henk Schulte Nordholt (eds), Locating Southeast Asia: post-colonial paradigms and predicaments, Singapore 2005, pp. 275-307.
& Ellen Bal, “Beyond the ‘Tribal’ mind-set: studying non-Bengali peoples in Bangladesh and West Bengal.” In: Georg Pfeffer and Deepak Kumar Behera (eds), Contemporary society: tribal studies V: Concept of tribal society, New Delhi, pp. 121-138.
2003 & Md. Mahbubar Rahman, “‘I am Not a refugee’: rethinking partition migration.” Modern Asian Studies 37,3: 551-584.
2004 “Spook.” In: Rosanne Rutten & Loes Schenk-Sandbergen (red.), Andere verhalen over Azië en onderzoek, Amsterdam, pp. 184-186.
2005 The Bengal borderland: beyond state and nation in South Asia, London.
& Itty Abraham (eds), Illicit flows and criminal things: states, borders, and the other side of globalization, Bloomington.
“Introduction: the making of illicitness.” In: idem, pp. 1-37.
“Spaces of engagement: how borderlands, illegal flows, and territorial states interlock.” In: idem, pp. 38-68.
2006 & Pierre-Paul Darrac, Global blue: indigo and espionage in colonial Bengal, Dhaka. – Bengali translation: Niler Biswayon: Nil O Ouponibeshik Goendagiri, Dhaka 2005.
“Quit India! Explaining mass deportations of Bangladeshi immigrants.” In: At the crossroads: South Asian research, policy and development in a globalized world, Karachi, pp. 322-335.
“Stretching labour historiography: pointers from South Asia.” International Review of Social History 51: 229-261.
Reprinted in: Rana Behal and Marcel van der Linden (eds), India’s labouring poor: historical studies, c. 1600-c. 2000, Delhi 2007, pp. 229-261; German translation: “Neue Aspekte der Arbeitsgeschichtsschreibung: Anregungen aus Südasien.” Sozial.Geschichte: Zeitschrift für historische Analyse des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts, 22:1 (2007), pp. 40-70; “Espandere la storiografia del lavoro: spunti dall’Asia meridionale.” In: Christian G. De Vito (ed.), Global labour history: la storia del lavoro al tempo della “globalizzazione”, Verona 2012, pp. 70-84.
“Guns and gas in Southeast Asia: transnational flows in the Burma-Bangladesh borderland.” Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia (August), 19pp. Published online in English, Japanese, Filipino, Indonesian and Thai. See
“Underworlds & borderlands.” IIAS Newsletter (Special Issue, September), 1-21; Guest Editor and Introduction ‘The Borderlands of Legality.’
2007 “The Wagah syndrome: territorial roots of contemporary violence in South Asia.” In: Amrita Basu and Srirupa Roy (eds), Violence and democracy in India, London-Kolkata, pp. 36-82.
“Interview – Willem van Schendel.” In: Shahaduzzaman, Kotha Porompora: Grihito Ebong Bhashantorito Shakkhatkar, Dhaka: Pathok Shomabesh, pp. 112-125.
2008 “The Asianization of indigo: rapid change in a global trade around 1800.” In: Peter Boomgaard, Dick Kooiman and Henk Schulte Nordholt (eds), Linking destinies: trade, towns and kin in Asian History, Leiden: KITLV Press, pp. 29-49.
& Meghna Guhathakurta (eds), Memory and amnesia in the South: conflict, violence, trauma, Kolkata, Calcutta/Sephis.
2009 A history of Bangladesh, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chinese translation: 孟加拉国史 – Mèng Jiā Lā Guó Shĭ, Beijing/Shanghai, 2012.
2011 “The dangers of belonging: tribes, indigenous peoples and homelands in South Asia.” In: D. J. Rycroft and S. Dasgupta (eds), The politics of belonging in India: becoming Adivasi, London, pp. 19-43.
“Bangladeschs Kampf um Unabhängigkeit: ein historischer Abriss.” NETZ-Bangladesh Zeitschrift 2011,1: 9-13.
“Bewaffneter Konflikt: Bangladeschs schmerzvoller Weg zur Unabhängigkeit.” Südasien 30/31,4/1, pp. 13-16.
2012 & Michele Ford, Lenore Lyons (eds), Labour migration and human trafficking in Southeast Asia: critical perspectives, London-New York.
“Labour migration and human trafficking: an introduction.” In: Michele Ford, Lenore Lyons and Willem van Schendel (eds.), Labour migration and human trafficking in Southeast Asia: critical perspectives, London, pp. 1-22.
“Green plants into blue cakes: working for wages in colonial Bengal’s indigo industry.” In Marcel van der Linden and Leo Lucassen (ed.), Working on labor: essays in honor of Jan Lucassen, Leiden-Boston, pp. 47-73.
“Southeast Asia – an idea whose time is past?” BTLV / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania 168,4: 497-510 (+ debate).
& Barak Kalir and Malini Sur, “Mobile practices and regimes of permissiveness.” In: Barak Kalir and Malini Sur (eds), Transnational flows and permissive policies: ethnographies of human mobilities in Asia, Amsterdam, pp. 11-25.
2013 & Meghna Guhathakurta (eds), The Bangladesh reader: history, culture, politics, Durham, NC.
“Making the most of “sensitive” borders.” In: David N. Gellner (ed.), Borderland lives in Northern South Asia, Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, pp. 266-271.
2014 & E. de Maaker, “Asian borderlands: introducing their permeability, strategic uses and meanings.” Journal of Borderlands Studies 29,1: 3-9.
“From Dhaka with love: the Nepal Nag Papers and the Sino-Soviet split.” In: Jan Lucassen, Aad Blok and Huub Sanders (eds), A usable collection: essays in Honour of Jaap Kloosterman on collecting Social History, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, pp. 426-433.
“Blind spots and biases in Bangladesh studies.” Südasien-Chronik/South Asia Chronicle 4: 29-35.
2015 & Joy L.K. Pachuau, The camera as witness: a social history of Mizoram, Northeast India, Delhi-Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
“Spatial moments – Chittagong in four scenes.” In: Eric Tagliacozzo, Helen F. Siu and Peter C. Perdue (eds), Asia inside out: connected places, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 98-127.
“What is agrarian labour? Contrasting indigo production in Colonial India and Indonesia.” International Review of Social History 60,1: 1-23.
“A war within a war: Mizo rebels and the Bangladesh Liberation Struggle.” Modern Asian Studies 2015, 1-43.
2017 “Embedding agricultural commodities: an introduction.” In: W. van Schendel (ed.), Embedding agricultural commodities: using historical evidence, 1840s–1940s, London: Routledge, pp. 1-10.
“Staying embedded: the rocky existence of an indigo maker in Bengal.” In: W. van Schendel (ed.), Embedding agricultural commodities: using historical evidence, 1840s–1940s, London: Routledge, pp. 11-29.
2018 “Afterword: contested, vertical, fragmenting: de-partitioning ‘Northeast India’ studies.” In: M. Vandenhelsken, M. Barkataki-Ruscheweyh, & B. G. Karlsson (eds), Geographies of difference: explorations in Northeast Indian studies, London: Routledge, pp. 272-288.
“Beyond labor history’s comfort zone? Labor regimes in Northeast India, from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century.” In: Ulbe Bosma and Karin Hofmeester (eds), The lifework of a labor historian: essays in honor of Marcel van der Linden, The Hague and Boston: Brill, 2018, pp. 174-207.
2019“Stretching labour historiography: pointers from South Asia.” In: M. van der Linden (ed.), The global history of work: critical readings, Vol. I: Work and workers in context. Bloomsbury Academic (Critical and Primary Sources), pp. 62-89.
“Visual narratives of troubled times – Mizoram (India) between 1966 and 1986.” In: L. Pachuau & R. Vanlalruati Ralte (eds), Revisiting Rambuai. LBS Publications/Government Aizawl College, pp. 242-272.
2020& D. Lewis, “Rethinking the Bangladesh State.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 54,2: 306–323.
A history of Bangladesh, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. [details]
“Fragmented sovereignty and unregulated flows: the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar corridor.” In: E. P. W. Hung and T-W. Ngo (eds), Shadow exchanges along the New Silk Roads, Amsterdam University Press, pp. 37-73.
2021“Framing spaces between India and China.” In: D. Smyer Yü and K. Dean (eds), Yunnan-Burma-Bengal corridor geographies: protean edging of habitats and empires, Routledge, pp. 29-45.
“Geografias do saber, Geografias da Ignorância: Saltando escalas no Sudeste Asiático.” Terra Brasilis 15: 1-29. [details]
2022& G. Cederlöf (eds), Flows and frictions in Trans-Himalayan spaces: histories of networking and border crossing. Amsterdam University Press.
& G. Cederlöf, “Flows and frictions in Trans-Himalayan spaces: an introduction.” In: G. Cederlöf & W. van Schendel (eds), Flows and frictions in Trans-Himalayan Ssaces: histories of networking and border crossing, Amsterdam University Press, pp. 11-25.
& J.L.K. Pachuau, Entangled lives: human-animal-plant histories of the Eastern Himalayan Triangle. Cambridge University Press.
Rebuffing Bengali dominance: postcolonial India and Bangladesh. Critical Asian Studies.
2023“Commons and wildlife conservation.” In: J. J. P. Wouters & T. B. Subba (eds), The Routledge Companion to Northeast India, Routledge, pp. 73-80.