Long before Calcutta was ‘discovered’ by Job Charnock, it thrived by the Hugli since times immemorial. This book, and its companion Colonial Calcutta, is a biographical account of the when, the how and the what of a global city and its emergence under colonial rule in the 1800s.
Ranjit Sen traces the story of how three clustered villages became the hub of the British Empire and a centre of colonial imagination. He examines the historical and geopolitical factors that were significant in securing its prominence, and its subsequent urbanization which was a colonial experience without an antecedent. Further, it sheds light on Calcutta’s early search for identity — how it superseded interior towns and flourished as the seat of power for its hinterland; developed its early institutions, while its municipal administration slowly burgeoned.
A sharp analysis of the colonial enterprise, this volume lays bare the underbelly of the British Raj. It will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of modern history, South Asian history, urban studies, British Studies and area studies.
Table of Contents
Preface. Acknowledgements. Note on the Text. Introduction: An Overview of the Colonial Origin of Calcutta Part I Scanning the Context 1. Mapping the Pattern of Urbanization in History: The Calcutta Chapter 2. A Comparative Understanding of the Growth of the Three Colonial Cities: Calcutta, Madras and Bombay 3. Revolution on the Riverbank: A Study of the Creation of a Mankind Necessary for Urbanization 4. Geopolitics of Early Urbanization in Calcutta 1698-1757 Part II Early Formations 5. Who was the Real Founder of Calcutta? Between Two Perspectives 6. How Calcutta Superseded Interior Towns 7. The Logic of Urbanization 8. Municipal Administration 9. Making a Pilgrim Centre: Kalighat 10. Challenges of an Urban Growth 11. The City Assumes Form 12. The City on a Hind Sight: Some Observations in Conclusion. Bibiliography. Index
Ranjit Sen is former Professor, Department of Islamic History and Culture, University of Calcutta.