British Association for South Asian Studies

Research Groups

Narmadā Research Group: Locating Pan-Asian Processes of Change and Interaction in a Regional Setting

This research group is engaged in a collaborative programme of research, fieldwork and publication. The group consists of an international conference of scholars at all stages of their careers; the organisational structure is intentionally organic. Core members of the group are as follows:

  •  Hans T. Bakker (Groningen)
  •  Anne Casile (Paris)
  •  Dorian Fuller (London)
  •  Jason Hawkes (Cambridge)
  •  Derek Kennet (Durham)
  •  O. P. Mishra (Bhopal)
  •  Michael Willis (London)
  •  Jürgen Neuss (Berlin)

Photo: excavations at Chipaner, an early historic city-site on the Narmadā.

The group’s geographical focus is the Narmadā River valley. One of India’s great perennial rivers, the Narmadā rises near Jabalpur in central India and joins the Indian Ocean near Surāt on the western coast. Since Chalcolithic times, the Narmadā has been the seat of a vibrant civilisation and an important corridor for trade and the transmission of ideas.

The aim of this interdisciplinary group is to foster new modes of working and thinking about India in the longue durée. This aim is being achieved in three ways. Firstly, the study of the Narmadā is being reassessed theoretically in relation to analogous and connected riverine systems and their hinterlands, notably the Krishnā River in the Deccan and the Irrawaddy and Mekong in South East Asia. Secondly, the examination of ancient sites is being positioned against new understandings of human agency, agrarian history, technology and the movement of people, goods and belief systems. Thirdly, objects held in the British Museum and elsewhere, effectively removed from their contexts by methods of collection and regimes of cataloguing, are being re-contextualized though an interdisciplinary form of analysis embracing geography, archaeology, anthropology and the history of art.

Our overarching objective is to re-vision South Asia as a significant historical power. This will allow India to take its place on the global historical stage, a position it has not enjoyed due the colonial past and an inward looking post-colonial historiography.



Indian Temple


The Vidisha Research Group, a precursor of the Narmadā Research Group, was funded by grants from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


Archaeological Survey of India

IRD, Paris

EFEO, Paris

The British Museum