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Title: Being Urban: Space, Community, and everyday life in colonial Calcutta (1800-1930)
Authors: Ghosh, Nabaparna
Advisors: Prakash, Gyan
Contributors: History Department
Subjects: History
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Exploring everyday urban life and urban formation in colonial Calcutta this dissertation investigates the molding of urban communities through the construction of space. At the heart of this dissertation are the paras, or the neighborhoods of Calcutta that offer an on-the-ground view of colonial urbanism. Breaking from much of the previous urban constitution of scholarship on South Asia that treats the city as a mere site for politics, economics, and culture, this dissertation explores the para as a sociospatial configuration, both shaping and shaped by historical actions. Through a close study of its spaces, this dissertation moves away from doctrinal analysis to understand what people thought urbanization was, and how these ideas informed their everyday lives. Going beyond the study of maps and town plans, usual in studies of colonial urbanism, this dissertation then reconstructs a city born in the perceptions of men and women who lived in its spaces. Locating urbanism in the everyday spaces of the para, this dissertation argues that the management of urban space was central to the crafting of urban middle class, or bhadralok, identity. In the early twentieth century, bhadraloks invented a new code of Hindu spatial hygiene as their everyday tactic to resist the city-making efforts of the state. This new science of hygiene informed their supervision of the para, reconfiguring its spaces. Exploring the bhadralok government in the para, this dissertation reveals ideas of development that manifested as interventions in conduct.It argues that in the bhadralok discourses on the city, urbanism was as much a bodily process as it was a spatial intervention. Employing Hindu spatial hygiene, they reordered the spaces of their para, while also trying to discipline the speech, conduct, and sexuality of fellow city dwellers. This dissertation consists of four chapters. Chapters 1 and 2 describe the authoritarian town planning initiatives of the state, and the gradual fomenting of everyday resistance in the para. Chapters 3 and 4, show the ways in which the para molded the bhadralok identity, and was, in turn, molded by it.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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