Skip to main content

CHS organises a lecture by Dr. Baishakh Chakrabarti

CHS organises a lecture by Dr. Baishakh Chakrabarti

Event From Date
Event End Date
Event Title
CHS organises a lecture by Dr. Baishakh Chakrabarti
Event Details
Centre for Historical Studies,
Jawaharlal Nehru University,

CHS Seminar Series

Dr. Baishakh Chakrabarti,
Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi

will be delivering a lecture on

‘Bringing Down the House: Historical Shifts in the 'Spaces' and 'Figures' of Gambling’

On 6th March 2024, at 3 PM
in Room No. 326, CHS, SSS-III

Abstract: This lecture will trace the production of the ‘common gaming house’ as a legislative, police, and judicial category in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century India and British Burma. There was never a blanket ban on gambling as a practice. Instead, legislation like the Public Gaming Act of 1867 and all subsequent anti-gambling acts criminalized certain places in which gambling was conducted. Accordingly, the talk will interrogate why nineteenth-century provincial governments and their officials chose to criminalize a space rather than the practice of gambling itself using the power of legislative language to define with precision what constituted a gaming house—its elements, its nature, and its function. Such legislative efforts, however, were consistently thwarted by the creative practices of gamblers and the proprietors of gaming houses, which resulted in a shift in governmental policy by the early twentieth century, especially when spot betting on commodities like cotton and jute was being popularized as games of chance. So, as the practices of gambling and commodity speculation began resembling one another, the onus of regulation and control on illegal gaming came from discriminatory executive action rather than statutory law.

Dr. Baishakh Chakrabarti is a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi.  After having received his M.A. and M.Phil. degrees from the Center for Historical Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Dr. Chakrabarti completed his Ph.D. at the South Asia Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania in 2022. His dissertation titled ‘Bringing Down the House: Gambling, Speculation and the Making of the Small Investor in Colonial India—1867-1943’ explores both the legal and social history of gambling in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century India, with a particular focus on its organization by business communities like the Marwaris and Gujaratis. Dr. Baishakh Chakrabarti’s research interests cover political economy and histories of finance capitalism, colonial law, agrarian studies, governmentality, and empire and state making.

A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.