Student working on a research project.

Revitalizing India’s Traditional Water Systems

In the arid landscapes that dominate much of present-day India, the survival and success of polities depended in part on their ability to manage water resources. Within the competitive political environment of early modern South Asia, technologies of water retrieval, storage, and distribution were vital means through which states established their cosmopolitan character, drawing immigrants from Iran, Ethiopia, and even Europe. These states sponsored the construction of ingenious structures such as stepwells, underground canals, water towers, reservoirs, and aqueducts for the collection and distribution of water across great distances. Elaborate fountains, baths, and gardens were enjoyed by elites, while canals, Persian wheels, and other technologies expanded the irrigated areas that could be subjected to intensive cultivation. Asian Studies Professor Walter Hakala seeks student researchers interested in studying these technologies and current efforts to revitalize neglected structures. Students will work with Dr. Hakala to collect and interpret scholarly materials connected with traditional water systems and their preservation. Prof. Hakala enthusiastically supports students who seek to present their research at conferences, travel to South Asia, and/or author or co-author journal articles on this or related topics. Interested students may schedule a meeting to discuss this or other projects with Prof. Hakala contacting him at

Research Project Information

Student Skill-Set Needed: Familiarity with Delivery+ (UB's interlibrary loan system), strong research and writing skills, interest in travel to South Asia
Compensation: Academic Credit, Volunteer
Available: Fall, Spring, Summer


For further information on this opportunity, or to apply, contact:

Faculty Member: Walter Hakala
Title: Associate Professor
Department: Asian Studies
Office: 315 Clemens Hall
Phone: 716-645-3419