To help us better understand western Avadh's food and ecological history, we referred to a number of historical documents, reports and research material. Some of the most useful ones are shared below:

Primary Material

These papers, presentations etc. are outputs of this research and touch on various aspects of our findings

  • Constituting the norm: Interrogating the Anthropocene through food geographies in the more-than-human worlds of Western Avadh, India
    - 2022

    This paper traces the history of western Avadh using the lens of food geographies and the Anthropocene. We show how the interplay of humans and non-humans and their natural environment from the Iron Age onwards challenge the standard narrative of human development

  • Contested narratives of dietary transitions in India: Examining the incommensurability of macro and micro datasets
    - 2019

    This is a video recording of a presentation made at the ANH (Agriculture Nutrition & Health) Academy's Conference

Colonial reports

Reports and documents produced by the British (and occasionally native) officials in colonial India. While they reflect the bias of the colonial powers, they also provide useful information about the region such as natural formations, crops and wildlife. They also describe developments such as the introduction of railways and the construction of the Sarda canal, a major source of irrigation in the region. A post-independence gazetteer and supplementary gazetteer can also be found here - they documents more recent developments such as the spread of tubewell irrigation and the 1979-80 drought.

  • Journey through the kingdom of Oude, 1849-50 – Major-General W. H. Sleeman
    - 1849-50, published in 1858

    Sleeman was the Oude resident at the time of writing this diary. He undertook this trip to ascertain conditions of the Oude territory under the Nawab (who had by then proclaimed himself king). Earlier, he had been instrumental in 'identifying' Thuggees and was head of the Thuggee Department in 1835.

  • Regular Settlement and Revised assessment of the district of Sitapur
    - 1860s, published in 1873

    The first colonial surveys of Sitapur district were conducted in the 1860s, after the British won the 1857 war and gained direct control of Oudh. Assessments followed soon after, and the settlement report, published in 1873, fixed the jama or tax to be collected for agricultural land for the next 30 years. The document has detailed descriptions of all the parganas and towns of Sitapur district and the histories of prominent families. It also describes the physical landscape, flora and fauna and the crops of the region.

  • Report on the Regular Settlement of the Hardoi district
    - Published in 1880

    This document, the first settlement report of Hardoi district (which adjoins Sitapur district), provides descriptions of the natural landscape, wildlife and communities. The crops of the region are listed out, and assessments made for the jama to be collected.

  • Sitapur, a Gazetteer
    - Published in 1905

    Starting in the late 19th century, the colonial government prepared gazetteers for districts in British India, which served as comprehensive geographical, economic, social and cultural catalogues. This is the gazetteer for Sitapur district, which draws from earlier settlement reports and other documents

  • Kheri, a Gazetteer
    - Published in 1905

    Starting in the late 19th century, the colonial government prepared gazetteers for districts in British India, which served as comprehensive geographical, economic, social and cultural catalogues. This is the gazetteer for Kheri district, which adjoins Sitapur district

  • Final report on the settlement of land revenue in the district Hardoi (Oudh)
    - Published in 1932

    This is the report of the third and final settlement of Hardoi district. It describes how previous settlements had to be revised downwards as large tracts of land are vulnerable to climatic variations. It also mentions the newly constructed Sarda canal and the expected benefits from it

  • The design and construction of the Sarda canal
    - 1932

    This a paper presented by Sir Bernard Darley, the engineer in charge of the Sarda canal construction. Along with technical aspects, he describes the history of how the canal came to be, along with the opposition from big landlords in the area. He also describes early problems with waterlogging, which has continued to be a problem in canal command areas

  • Uttar Pradesh District Gazetteers - Sitapur
    - 1964

    This is the first gazetteer for Sitapur district produced in the post-Independence era, and provides updated information about the district

  • Uttar Pradesh District Gazetteers - Sitapur Supplementary
    - 1989

    This is a brief report providing district level statistics, reports of natural disasters etc.

Research papers

These published papers touch on various aspects of the history of western Avadh, from archeological investigations to narratives of peasant revolts, as well as dietary transitions and wild or uncultivated foods.

  • Late Quaternary vegetation history, climatic variability and human activity in the Central Ganga Plain, deduced by pollen proxy records from Karela Jheel, India
    - 2015

    This paper describes the results of pollen analysis of sediments in a lake bed in Lucknow district, which indicate agricultural practices from nearly 12,000 years ago

  • Finding Plant Domestication in the Indian Subcontinent
    - 2011

    This paper provides a comprehensive overview of plant domestication in different regions of the Indian subcontinent. It analyses the findings from archeological sites in the Gangetic plain that show early consumption of rice from 8000 BCE onwards, and discusses whether this was cultivated or collected.

  • Palaeoethnobotanical Finds from Ancient Naimisharanya, District Sitapur; U.P. during Kushana Period (A.D. 100-300)
    - 2011

    This paper describes the seeds and fruit remains found in a mound at Naimisharanya in Sitapur district. They include cereals, pulses, vegetables, cotton and fruits - many of these crops are still cultivated today.

  • The Peasant in Indian History
    - 1983

    This paper describes peasant communities across the Indian subcontinent, with sections on the Gangetic plain. These sections describe the transition to settled agriculture, the agrarian structures that formed and the evolution of tribes into rigid castes. While this is dated and based entirely on historical written texts, it provides insights into transitions across 3000 years in this region

  • Anti-Feudal and Anti-Colonial Struggles of the Oudh Peasantry in Early 1920s
    - 1980

    This paper describes the peasant struggle in Oudh (Avadh) in the 1920s and the opposition it received from the Indian National Congress. It provides insights into why taluqdars and zamindars, the landlords of Avadh, were strong enough to resist the post-Independence land reforms

  • Analysis of wetland habitat changes and its impacts on avifauna in select district of the Indo-­Gangetic plains of Uttar Pradesh, India, between 1972 and 2004
    - 2007

    This study uses satellite maps to trace the decline of wetlands in five districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Sitapur and Hardoi. It describes various factors that have led to the decline, and its impact on wildlife

Reports & articles

These reports and articles cover topics of interest such as uncultivated foods, changes in land use etc.

  • The roles and values of wild foods in agricultural systems
    - 2010

    This review paper examines the importance of wild foods in communities across the world. It starts off by debunking the premise that human civilisation moved from hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a complete agricultural one, using the term cultivator-hunters or farmer-foragers to describe communities that shape their non-agricultural environment in various ways. It talks about the 'hidden harvest' of wild foods, including those that are found in cultivated land such as paddy fields. It describes the diversity and nutritive value of wild foods, as well as the factors leading to their decline such as climate change, land use change, unsustainable harvesting etc. Another important factor is that the consumption of wild foods is considered shameful in wider society. This is in spite of the fact that globally, over 1 billion people consume wild foods

  • Common property resources and rural poor in dry regions of India
    - 1986

    NS Jodha spent decades researching the importance of Common Property Resources (CPR) for the rural poor. This seminal work documents findings from 80 villages in 21 districts and seven states (now eight) of India. While he considers all these dry regions, it must be noted that some have rainfall comparable to western Avadh, such as Vidisha, MP. The paper describes how CPRs reduced inequity by providing resources to the poor, and discusses various factors that have led to their decline

  • Common Property Resources and the poor - findings from West Bengal
    - 2000

    This paper describes the access to CPRs for the poor, with findings from seven villages throughout Bengal. The authors found that, along with fuel and fodder, food is also collected - fish and greens from paddy fields, fish and prawn from privately owned tanks and fruits and meat from the forests. Agricultural intensification, population growth and environmental degradation have led to decline in CPRs. Further, new forms of community-based resource management, such as a fishermen's cooperative society has resulted in the conversion of open access resources into 'private' property. Thus, processes of modernisation which take over from customary access have not been kind to poor communities.

  • Forests as Food Producing Habitats, - An exploratory study of Uncultivated Foods and Food & Nutrition Security of Adivasis in Odisha
    - 2014

    This publication from Living Farms documents uncultivated foods consumed by Adivasi (indigenous) communities in two districts of Odisha – Rayagada and Sundargarh. A third of the population in six villages was selected and these households' intake was tracked over six months. The researchers recorded 121 different kinds of mushrooms, tubers, leafy vegetables, wild fruits & vegetables and wild animals collected, with consumption ranging from 12% to 24.4% of total cooked foods. Interestingly, the study also reviews historical records that show there was never famine in this part of the country due to the Adivasi dependence on uncultivated foods.

  • ‘‘Tinni’’ Rice (Oryza rufipogon Griff.) Production: An Integrated Sociocultural Agroecosystem in Eastern Uttar Pradesh of India
    - 2012

    This paper describes a wild rice ecosystem in eastern Uttar Pradesh, where the local Bhar community conserves the wetlands where tinni rice grows, and harvests it when mature. While this is not the story of our study region, it is indicative of how settled communities played a role in managing 'wild' spaces

  • Wellbeing by Eating Well
    - 2015

    This commentary describes agricultural and food transitions in a village in Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh over the last 50-100 years. The author, Uma Shankari, shares her personal recollections of three periods – the bullock, pre-irrigation period; the borewell period and the NREGA period.

  • Millets, milk and maggi: contested processes of the nutrition transition in rural India
    - 2017

    This ethnographic study traces dietary changes in the Kumaon Hills, Uttarakhand. The author, Carly Nichols, spent a few months in four villages of Nainital district, lived with three families and conducted 72 semi-structured interviews on agricultural production and household consumption. She found a transition away from madua or finger millet, which is considered dark and undesirable, towards packaged foods such as Maggi noodles. Milk consumption has fallen as most of the milk produced is sold through dairies. The author recommends that quantitative methods that can show what has changed in diets should be combined with qualitative that show how these changes occurred.

  • Food security from free collection of foods: Evidence from India
    - 2021

    In this paper, Sudha Narayan describes the continuing importance of the free collection of foods to diversifying diets and improving nutrition security by analysing food consumption data in the National Sample Surveys (NSS) of 2009-10 and 2011-12. She finds that, though there has been a rapid decline in the population that consumes free foods (5.8% compared to 12% in 2004-05), in districts where free foods are important, 15% of households collect food.