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Anindita Ghosh
Basic Information
University of Manchester
Professor in Modern Indian History
History Dept, School of Arts Languages and Culture

Manchester University, Oxford Road

M13 9PL

Additional Information
About My Work
Departing from approaches that see the city as the unproblematic product of British initiative and disciplining, Claiming the City (OUP 2016), my recent monograph, presents the urban processes shaping Calcutta as contested and partially indigenous. In a remarkable intervention the work studies how the ‘colonial urban’ was not just born out of the ordered institutional spaces inscribed by public parks and squares, sewers and water supplies, roads and tramways, but also the more plebeian imprint of their circumvention by the city’s inhabitants - through their use of this civic infrastructure, violence, protest and street demonstrations. In the process the book also traces the ways in which the once proverbial ‘City of Palaces’ turned by the early twentieth century into a city of endemic unrest and political strife.

The book breaks new ground by exploring the history of colonial urbanization from below through a wide range of sources, from street songs and photographs to local histories and memoirs, in addition to the more well-known official archives. In bringing together for the first time both known and unknown histories of the city in imaginative ways, the book weaves a vibrant narrative of everyday life in colonial Calcutta. Scandal, rumour, murder and music help locate energetic lower layers of public sphere in the city that were deeply invested in the urban. By highlighting the tensions of living in a rapidly changing world of technological innovations, social and moral dilemmas, municipal strictures and grinding poverty, the book establishes Calcutta’s residents not as passive consumers but rightful claimants to the city.

The book will be indispensable to scholars of urban history/urban studies more specifically, and social and cultural historians more generally. Because of the interdisciplinary scope of the study it will appeal to sociologists, geographers and literary studies scholars as well. For students and researchers interested in popular culture, subaltern studies, urban unrest, space, technology and material culture, especially with relation to South Asia the book will constitute vital reading.
Article cited: Ghosh, Anindita. "Singing in a new world: street songs and urban experience in colonial Calcutta." History Workshop Journal. Vol. 76. No. 1. Oxford University Press, 2013.

French, Gervase. "Bibliography of urban history 2014." Urban History 41.4 (2014): 732.

Williams, Richard David. "Music, Lyrics, and the Bengali Book: Hindustani Musicology in Calcutta, 1818–1905." Music and Letters 97.3 (2016): 465-495.
Professional Associations
European Association for South Asian Studies

American Historical Association

South Asian Studies conference, Wisconsin Madison USA