Bipasha Bhattacharyya will start her PhD in History in Lent term 2022 as Trinity College’s Prince of Wales Student, under the supervision of Professor Samita Sen. Bipasha previously read history at Presidency University, Kolkata. Her MA thesis (‘Hope is a thing with feathers: Lakshmiswar Sinha and the Search for Indian Esperantos’, Presidency University Press, 2021) attempted to give voice to a pioneering history of Esperanto usage in the early twentieth century Indian subcontinent through the lens of a forgotten Bengali Esperantist, carpenter and playwright. During her time at Presidency University, Bipasha successfully revived the once defunct peer-reviewed student journal ‘Presidency Historical Review’ and served as its executive editor. She initiated a successful campaign to preserve and catalogue a disintegrating archive owned by Presidency University. This effort is today supported by a generous endowment by the British Library Endangered Archives program.
Bipasha’s need to look at history as a process nourished by the academy while simultaneously eluding academic insularity, is an approach that has been honed by her peripatetic experiences growing up in the United States and India. She is a native speaker of English and Bengali, speaks fluent Hindi, and is proficient in French and Medieval Persian. She is currently on the path to Esperanto fluency. At Cambridge she will further develop her interest in constructed languages, language politics and pedagogy, through an attempt to historicize Esperanto and the search for an International auxiliary language beyond often assumed realms of Eurocentrism or linguistics-based disciplinary insularity. Through ethnographic and historical explorations based on a non-insular understanding of region, she will explore how Asian interventions within this search led to the creation of both universal particulars as well as particular universalisms. Alongside such pursuits, she is currently attempting to situate the unpublished 1960s correspondences of American Esperantist Ina Tillman with a Siberian Esperantist whose familial connections date back to Leo Tolstoy’s own late nineteenth century Esperanto friendly publishing firm, Posrednik.
Centre for History and Economics,
Cambridge CB3 0AG, UK
Tel. +44 (0)1223 331197