Great success: Prof Amrit Sen’s visit to Edinburgh

Professor Amrit Sen and Mr Biswanath Banerjee from Visva-Bharati visited Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee in March 2015. Mr Banerjee has recently completed a joint UGC sponsored research project on Rabindranath Tagore and Science. Mr Banerjee has submitted his doctoral dissertation on “Science, Nation and Literature: Acharya P.C. Ray and Postcoloniality”.

Prof Amrit Sen
Prof Amrit Sen

A.P.C. Ray, is considered the father of Indian Chemistry who has a DSc from Edinburgh University, Scotland and has been a vibrant participant in the progress of Indian science in the early twentieth century.

Mr Banerjee is working on two chapters for publication based on his thesis, which will showcase the work of A.J.C Bose and A.P.C Ray and their links with Scottish scientists. Prof Fraser is co-author of a chapter on A.P.C. Ray which interprets Ray’s years in the UK and Europe for a book on this Renaissance man, which is in press and will be published in 2015.

As part of the visit, Dr. Sen delivered three lectures at Glasgow University, Edinburgh Napier University and Edinburgh University. On the 11the March Dr. Sen’s lecture at Glasgow was entitled “Rabindranath’s Rammohun and the Complexities of Bengali Identity,” which drew out the influences of the European Enlightenment on the Renaissance in India and the continuum of this idea in the writings of Tagore.

On the 13th March, Dr. Sen’s lecture at Edinburgh Napier University was entitled “Tagore, Travel and Tirtha” which drew upon the structure of the Sanskrit idea of pilgrimage to explore the notion of travel as key to the continuum of ideas. In his final lecture on 16 March 2015 entitled “The River in Indian Literature and the Response of Tagore”, Dr. Sen argued that the ideas of the environment are closely related with the river in Tagore’s work. This lecture was congruent with the environmental vision shared by both Geddes and Tagore.

Both scholars (Sen and Banerjee) worked extensively at the National Library of Scotland where they looked closely at several primary and secondary texts on Patrick Geddes. Especially significant were Geddes’s texts on education and environment and the archival records of the correspondence between Tagore and Geddes.

This was followed by a visit to the archives at the University of Dundee where they explored the economic links between Kolkata and Dundee. They also looked at the records of women who were travelling from Scotland to India and their perspectives on the cultural encounter and the continuum of ideas. Both of them have located volumes on this interaction in the Edinburgh University Library and have collected key references.

As part of the UKIERI project there has been substantial interaction with a number of key academics working in this field. Dr. Sen and Mr. Banerjee have also interacted with scholars who will be visiting India soon. Key meetings with Professor Bashabi Fraser have facilitated a further discussion of the timeline of the project and the proposal for a Reader that will bring together the continuum of ideas between Tagore and Geddes has already been mooted. As more references emerge, a substantial theoretical study will be inaugurated which will culminate in an anthology of scholarly essays exploring a historic interchange of ideas between Scotland and India to establish their postmodern relevance.