Monthly Archives: August 2014

Registration is open for

Meeting Places: The City as a Space of Cross-Cultural Encounter

Friday 12th – Saturday 13th September 2014

School of the Arts Old Library, 19 Abercromby Square

University of Liverpool, UK

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Full Programme is below and available as a pdf ETICMeetingPlacesProgramme:

Friday 12 September

Joint sessions with Port City Lives Conference

 9:00 – 9:30  Registration

 9:30 – 11:30                  India

Jessica Hanser (Independent scholar), ‘The Madras-Canton Connection: Debts Crises and Political Instability in the British Empire.’

Catherine Eagleton (British Library), ‘Currency Flows and Trade Routes: Connections and Disconnections between Port Cities in the Western Indian Ocean, 1825-1875.’

Atiya Habeeb Kidwai (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India), Gloria Kuzur (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India) and Sarmistha Roy (Ambedkar University, India), ‘The Role of Gateway Ports in the Evolution of Extroverted Hinterlands and Trade Blocks in Colonial India (1850 – 1945).’

Nilanjana Deb (Jadavpur University, India), ‘“The Tide of Migration Ebbs and Flows”: Labour Migration from the Colonial Port of Calcutta.’

11:30 – 11:45 Tea/Coffee

 11:45 – 1:15                  Empires

Simon Mollan (York), ‘The Port of Suakin, Sudan, Entrepreneurialism, and the Imperial Gothic.’

Christine Atiyeh (Kutztown) and Alicia Walker (Bryn Mawr), ‘The Ports of Carthage (Tunisia) as Symbol of Empire.’

Edward Collins (University College, Dublin), ‘Knowledge Transmission and the Creation of Empire: The role of Seville in sixteenth-century Spain.’

1:15 – 2:30 Lunch

 2:30 – 3:30                  Hinterlands

Steven Gray (Warwick), ‘‘‘A Mixture of Races, Customs, and Manners, such as can Scarcely be Found at any Other Place:” The Culture of a Victorian Coaling Station.’

Günter Warsewa (Universität/Arbeitnehmerkammer Bremen), ‘Shifting Relations Between Ports and Cities: The Postindustrial Maritime City.’

 3:30 – 4:00 Tea/Coffee

 4:00 – 5:00                  Cross-roads and exchanges

Abhijit Gupta, (Jadavpur University, India), ‘A Note on Portuguese Print-house Personnel in Colonial Calcutta’.

Sidh Losa Mendiratta (Coimbra University, Portugal), ‘Framing Identity: cityscapes and architecture of Mumbai’s catholic communities (19th and the 20th centuries)’.

5:00 – 7:00                  ‘Meeting Places’ Conference reception

 Saturday 13 September

10:00-11:00                  Key-note lecture

Vikram Prakash, University of Washington, ‘Deruralization: The Indian City in the Age of Globalization’.

11:00 – 11:15 Tea/Coffee

 11:15 – 12:45               Communities and exchange

Nilanjana Gupta (Jadavpur University, India), ‘Learning the Language of Power: Calcutta Madrasah as a site of Encounter’

Sujaan Mukherjee (Jadavpur University, India), ‘The Jewish Community of Calcutta: Texts and Contexts’

Shinjini Chattopadhyay (Jadavpur University, India), ‘European Objects within an Indian Space: Space, Object and Modernity in the Colonial Banik Community of Bengal’

 12:45 — 2:00 Lunch

 2:00 – 3:00                  The Fabric of the City

Supriya Chaudhuri (Jadavpur University, India), ‘Grey Town: East-West Encounters in Colonial Calcutta’.

Massimo Vianello (Independent Scholar), ‘The Future Two steps behind’.

3:00 – 4:30 Tea/Coffee and Final round-table discussion. Conference ends.



School of Cultural Texts and Records,
Rabindra Bhavan,
Jadavpur University

21 July 2014 (Monday) at 3.00 p.m.

A special talk on “Land-Profiteering or Speculation: Fixing the Fiscal Geography of Calcutta” was presented by Dr. Debjani Bhattacharyya, Department of History, Emory University at the School of Cultural Texts and Records. A part of the “Envisioning the Indian City: Spaces of Encounter” project, the talk was hosted and moderated by Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri.

Drawing upon the final chapter of her recently completed PhD thesis, Dr. Bhattacharyya began by outlining her interests in urban historiography and located her discourse within the larger framework of studying the creation of a ‘market’ in urban land as a central project of ‘colonial urbanism’ in Calcutta from 1820 to 1920, and the parallel emergence of urban property as a juridical economic entity.

The idea of urban property speculation was the central topic of her discussion. After briefly defining urban historiography in the context of Indian cities in general and Calcutta in particular, she looked into the question and analytic of urban property which till the late 19th century remained as a non-revenue generating space. Dr. Bhattacharyya drew attention on the importance of understanding whether any political and modernising principles of land improvement and property regulation was shared across economically productive spaces like agricultural fields, forests, plantations in the 19th century, and non-economically productive spaces (non-revenue generating) like urban property.

While property tax was introduced for the first time in the late 1860s resulting in houses being seen as revenue-generating entities, a land acquisition bill was yet to be introduced.

The talk went on to focus on the housing crisis in the city, its history, the role played by unions and promoters and their relation to landowners. Engagement in artificial property and irrational speculation in land prices led to profiteering and the emergence of what may be called ‘fictitious capital’. The discussion then shifted to understanding the socio-political conditions of the state and its relation to landowners and promoters. The government of a state is seen as an entity which plays an important part in either facilitating or even preventing speculation. The discussion concluded with the contemporary situation in Kolkata and speculative possibilities for the future. There were questions and answers at the end.

Reported by Pramantha M. Tagore