I am Ramya, a graduate student in the Department of History at Michigan State University. As historian I am very interested in environmental history, borderlands history, and the history of science and technology. I am passionate about public history and am currently interning at the Michigan History Center as part of the State Parks Centennial celebrating a hundred years of Michigan’s state parks. As part of the internship, I conducted archival research and am currently collaborating on interpreting and visualizing that research into exhibition material to be rolled out in summer 2019.

My doctoral project explores the origins, motivations, and effects of dredging to offer a new history of the Detroit River between 1865 and 1930. In so doing, it attempts to offer a new analytical lens by thinking about dredging as a historical, material, and ecological process. Because the dredged channel straddles the international border (for the most part) between the United States and Canada, dredging as I hope to show is as much a territorializing process as it is a technological and political one.

I have long been intrigued by Digital Humanities and was a Cultural Humanities Informatics (CHI) fellow in 2016-17 and created website on the TVA (which needs updating). I also attended the Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching (HILT)  summer school in June 2018. Both experiences emphasized to me the importance of breaking things in order to build them better.

In 2016, I  completed a Master’s in Urban Design at Lawrence Technological University (Southfield, MI); as part of the program, I undertook a research thesis on the spatialization of the US-Canada border along the Detroit River. As the longest unmanned/non-militarized border in the world, the making of the US Canada border, especially over water is an under-researched area. Through my master’s thesis, I attempted to map the border making process and its relationship with island ownership. To me, borders become infrastructure through their making, performativity, behavior and as lived experience. In investigating the making of a border over water, I aimed to tease out longer historical movements of people, non-humans, trade, and politics.

Parts of my master’s thesis, including visualizations (which need updating) live here

I come to history from an interdisciplinary background in journalism, political science, science policy studies, environmental law, and urban design; needless to say, it has been a circuitous journey.

Thank you for your interest and I look forward to hearing from you!

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