Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Abhilash Medhi

PhD Candidate in History
Summer Fellow 2014


Abhilash Medhi is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Brown. His dissertation, set between 1840 and 1930, is a comparative spatial history of the Indo-Afghan borderlands and northeast India. Engaging three sites of the colonial intervention—land legislation and taxation, changes in agrarian practices, and the extension of railway infrastructure—it examines how these areas were incorporated into a colonial state space at the same time as they were shaped as frontiers. Abhilash received the SSRC’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship in 2016. He holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and, in a previous avatar, conducted research on local governance in Afghanistan.

2014 Fellow Project Description: My summer research examined the afterlife of Edward Gait's 1906 account, A History of Assam, in historiography on the region. Specifically, through a close reading of the works of three historians from Assam, Suryya Kumar Bhuyan. Kanaklal Barua, and Padmanath Bhat-tacharya, it traced the development of two strands within Assamese historical thought. The first of these emphasized connections between histories of Assam and India. The second asserted Assamese autonomy while citing the region's evasion of Mughal and British domination to portray it as a space especially suited to the recovery of an unin­terrupted, and ancient Indian past.