James L. Wescoat, Jr. is the Aga Khan Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from Louisiana State University and practiced landscape architecture in the U.S. and Middle East before returning to graduate study in geography at the University of Chicago with an emphasis on water resources. He taught courses on landscape research, geographic theory, and water resources at the University of Chicago and University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was a member of centers for South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Public Policy studies.
His research has concentrated on water systems in South Asia and the US from the site to river basin scales. For the greater part of his career, Professor Wescoat has focused on small-scale historical waterworks of Mughal gardens and cities in India and Pakistan. He led the Smithsonian Institution's project titled, "Garden, City, and Empire: The Historical Geography of Mughal Lahore," which resulted in a co-edited volume onMughal Gardens: Sources, Places, Representations, Prospects, and The Mughal Garden: Interpretation, Conservation, and Implicationswith colleagues from the University of Engineering and Technology-Lahore. These and related books have won awards from the Government of Pakistan and Punjab Government. The overall Mughal Gardens Project won an American Society of Landscape Architects national research merit award, as did a project on The Moonlight Garden: New Discoveries at the Tajled by Elizabeth Moynihan. This work has been generously supported by fellowships from Dumbarton Oaks, the Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art, and the American Academy in Rome.
Professor Wescoat has conducted water policy research in the Colorado, Indus, Ganges, and Great Lakes basins, including the history of multilateral water agreements. He led a USEPA-funded study of potential climate impacts in the Indus River Basin in Pakistan with the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). More recently, he led an NSF-funded project on "Water and Poverty in Colorado." He is currently conducting comparative research on international water problems. In 2003, he published Water for Life: Water Management and Environmental Policywith geographer Gilbert F. White (Cambridge University Press); and in 2007 he co-edited Political Economies of Landscape Change: Places of Integrative Power(Springer Publishing) for LAF Landscape Futures Initiative.
Hirsch, Rachel, Abdul Rehman, and James L. Wescoat, Jr. "Gardens of the Mughal Empire Bibliographic Update II -- 2008-18." 2019.
This update of the bibliography for the Gardens of the Mughal Empire Project is the result of new questions and avenues of research that have expanded the temporal, geographic, and thematic bounds of Mughal garden sources. It builds on the bibliography published by Michael Brand (2001), which reflected the many historical sources for and rapid growth of Mughal garden scholarship in the 1990s. In addition to delineating the contours of this body of scholarship, that bibliography became a comprehensive list of sources on Mughal Lahore and its gardens. Notably, even in that early iteration, an understanding of the necessity for multidisciplinary approaches to Mughal gardens is evident. The range of sources identified stemmed from the disciplines of landscape architecture, geography, history, and art history, as well as South Asian and Islamic studies.
In 2007, the bibliography was updated with scholarship published since 2001, and its thematic categories were refined to reflect the use of Mughal gardens as an analytic lens into the cultural heritage of Punjab. The update also benefited from detailed excavations and conservation of notable garden sites, such as the Moonlight Garden in Agra, Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, and Babur’s tomb-garden in Kabul. These projects made possible the reconstruction of newly unearthed water systems and pathways and necessitated a new bibliographic category, “Mughal and Islamicate Gardens, Waterworks, Arts, and Conservation.” The 2007 Nagaur palace-garden complex excavations also brought to light the importance of soil profiles and planting techniques, and the bibliography was also updated to include materials on plants and vegetation of South and Southwest Asia.
This latest iteration highlights the substantial amount of additional scholarship on Mughal gardens published from 2007 to 2018. As in previous updates, we include earlier items missed in the previous bibliographies. Many of the updates reflect new directions in the field of art history, moving Mughal gardens beyond the visual dimension foregrounded in art historical practice. New emphasis has been placed on multisensorial experiences, bringing oral, olfactory, and affective dimensions of Mughal gardens. In addition, we have expanded the geographic span beyond Lahore and the Punjab to include recent research on regional gardens of Kashmir, Rajasthan, and the Deccan. The wider range of related materials include Pahari painting and Sikh sacred texts. These updates respond to the need for regional approaches to South Asian studies expounded in recent edited volumes on the Punjab and the Deccan, for a cross-regional comparison of gardens and water systems, and for a broader understanding of the geographic and temporal reach of Mughal gardens. This includes sources on colonial and postcolonial garden practices, contemporary Mughal gardens outside of South Asia, and vernacular kitchen gardens.