CFP: [Postcolonial] AAG 2009 Calcutta's Modernities

full name / name of organization: 
Mark Jackson
contact email: 

AAG Conference, Las Vegas, 22-27 March 2009

Call for Papers


Studies of urban modernity are canonic to urban geography, sociology,
social history and political economy. Yet, often, as Jennifer Robinson has
recently noted, "colonial and neo-imperial power relations...remain deeply
embedded in the assumptions and practices of much contemporary urban
theory" (2006:2). Diverting the hegemonic gaze in 'world cities', 'global
cities' and 'metropolitan' studies away from a continuing return to
privileging hierarchies of urban influence, i.e., wealthy Western cities,
this session proposes a focus through one city, Calcutta, in order to open
discussions towards a postcolonial urban theory; this work thus seeks to
legitimize the specificities of a key modern city whose role, despite its
infamy and influence, remains under-appreciated in Anglophone academic
literature. Calcutta's histories are integrally constituted through
narratives of modernity (colonialism, trade, industry, architecture,
diaspora, nationalisms, state conflict, inequality, etc). Yet, urban
modernity is rarely read through the lens of a postcolonial city like
Calcutta. What do the spaces and places of Calcutta (territorial,
imagined, dispersed and diverse) have to say to how we continue to
construct narratives of urban modernity and the city? How is its place in
the history of empire relevant to contemporary worries about world cities
and global cities? It too was once a world city, a second city of empire,
a City of Palaces. How does its supposed wane in global influence speak to
constructing contemporary debates around the urban, development,
creativity, neo-liberalizing economies, mobility, identity, etc? What does
this fascinating, diverse, lovely and troubled city have to say to
contemporary human geographies?

This session aims to gather a growing interest and work on Calcutta's past
and present to address its key place in the social, cultural, historical
and economic geographies of the present.

Papers are welcomed on such topics as (but not limited to...):

   * contemporary politics of re-naming
   * new and returning urban and suburban developments
   * landscapes of Calcutta's diasporic identities
   * geographies of Calcutta's historic ethnic diversity (Jewish,
     Chinese, Greek, etc).
   * cultural politics in a changing India
   * ruin as immanence in urban modernity
   * consumption and exhibition
   * urbanizing mobilities
   * exurban dispossession and resistance
   * food and the city
   * politics and violence, then and now
   * sexualities and the post-colonial city
   * alternative economies in Calcutta
   * Calcutta and representation
   * geographies of the city's musical culture
   * visual cultures of urban Bengal
   * Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak and the "new" Calcutta
   * Jibanananda Das and the "new" Calcutta

Authors are asked to submit a short abstract (250 words) to the session
organizer, Mark Jackson <>, by October 5th.

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Received on Tue Sep 09 2008 - 09:00:41 EDT