Book Review: Why call Ganga a Machine?

Guest Blog by Ramya Swayamprakash (

BOOK REVIEW: Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River. Anthony Acciavatti; Applied Research + Design Publishing, 402 pp, March 15, 2015. ISBN: 9780982622612

I stumbled upon The Ganges Water Machine while looking for literature on urbanization and rivers in India. Written by architectural historian Anthony Acciavatti, the book is the result of a decade long journey through the Ganges basin, “an atlas — a dynamic atlas — of the Ganges Machine: a collection of transects that expose the juxtaposing layers of infrastructure and adjoining landforms” (P8). At a time, when the Ganges is seeing a surge of talk (and perhaps activity) about cleaning the river, this book is a timely inquiry in to how the Ganges river basin came to be the vast agrarian landscape that it is. This is perhaps the first time, the spatial dimensions of the multifarious historical and material processes at play in the Ganges basin with regards to irrigation have been explored. Continue reading “Book Review: Why call Ganga a Machine?”