Main Article Content

An Equal Right to the City: Contests over Cultural Space in Calcutta

P Chatterjee


The paper discusses the development of urban culture in Calcutta from the ‘early modernity’ of the first decades of the nineteenth century, through the ‘colonial modern’ period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, to the ‘nationalist’ and ‘postcolonial’ modernity of India’s independence since 1947. It describes the particular ways in which urban space in Calcutta has been a model for ‘free citizenship’, and how it has een fought about in terms of access, segregation and exclusion. The history of different forms of popular culture and performance are described and differentiated – using the example of middle-class English and Bengali theatre to illustrate one strand, and that of the Mohun Bagan and East Bengal soccer teams to demonstrate the dynamics of another. The effectiveness of public culture in Calcutta in offering scope for widely different voices is shown through the integration and ‘domestication’ of vast numbers of immigrants from East Bengal after Partition, and again after the independence war in Bangladesh in 1971.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2159-9130
print ISSN: 1013-929X