Joshua Ehrlich, assistant professor in the Department of History of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Macau (UM), has been awarded the Arnold Hirsch Award for Best Article in a Scholarly Journal for 2023 for his significant contribution to the field of historical research. The article was published in the international academic journal Past & Present.

Joshua Ehrlich

The award was presented by the Urban History Association, an international organisation. The award committee praised Prof Ehrlich’s article as a ‘compelling’, ‘meticulous’, ‘rich and nuanced’ work of scholarship, which ‘paints a vivid picture of how physical boundaries play a profound role in shaping socio-political landscapes’.

Prof Ehrlich’s award-winning article, ‘The Meanings of a Port City Boundary: Calcutta’s Maratha Ditch, c.1700–1950’, traces the history of the port city of Calcutta (now Kolkata) and its historical boundary, the Maratha Ditch. It shows how, from the 18th century to the 20th century, the ditch was a vital site of meaning-making that sustained political, legal and social divisions. More broadly, the article proposes a new way to study the history of port cities and provides the basis for a new historical geography of the urban world: one attentive to both boundaries and connections.

Plan of Calcutta