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Is Kolkata a Colonial City? Adda with Partha Chatterjee (in collaboration with Victoria Memorial Hall)

Adda: 'The practice of friends getting together for long, informal and unrigorous conversations' - Dipesh Chakrabarty
Is Kolkata a Colonial City? Adda with Partha Chatterjee (in collaboration with Victoria Memorial Hall)

Partha Chatterjee

‘Modernity was first experienced, in both metropolis and colony, as an urban phenomenon. The modern history of empire was thus lived and acted out in these places—places where that history is sometimes still remembered, and at other times, has been erased from memory. Both acts are part of the continuing history of empire. [F]orgetting not only conceals a complex story of collaboration and conflict between colonizers and colonized but also is itself a powerful technique of empire that still forms a part of its repertoire of practices' - Partha Chatterjee

Our first adda:

Sitting inside the marble walls of the Victoria Memorial, built between 1906 and 1921 and dedicated to Queen Victoria, the epicentre of the imperial effort to construct an architectural self-image, we return the big questions of history to the city of Calcutta.

Many of Chatterjee's famous books, notably The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (1993), The Politics of the Governed: Popular Politics in Most of the World (2004) and Lineages of Political Society: Studies in Postcolonial Democracy (2011) have used Calcutta/Kolkata to put forward major political theories applicable to the (formerly) colonized global South. Here we return his questions to their original setting.

Victoria Memorial

(above) The Victoria Memorial, https://goo.gl/maps/pXpzNYGp7aU2

Additional fact:

In 1998, the artist Vivan Sundaram had made an installation in the Durbar Hall. At the centre of the installation, surrounded by the paraphernalia of colonialism, he had presented Victoria's throne as a plain plastic chair. The Black Hole would reappear in the very centre of the imperial symbolic.

Readings:

Chatterjee, Partha, The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Process of Power (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012) (download here)
Chatterjee, Partha. The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004 (download here)

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