1st Edition

Heritage, Crafting Communities and Urban Transformation Durga Puja Festival, Kolkata

By Debapriya Chakrabarti Copyright 2024
    186 Pages 39 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book emphasises the need to empower marginalised communities to contribute to decision-making processes within policy realms. It contributes to ongoing debates in the social sciences about infrastructure rights and citizenship, and it throws insight on human–infrastructure interactions in the informal neighbourhoods of the global South.

    The book delves into the complexities of caste, gender, class, and political identities and affiliations associated with the multiple factors of inclusion and exclusion particularly in the case of access to infrastructure in informal settlements in urban areas with an added productive function. This book is about how this historic inner-city, situated, religious idol-crafting community is transforming due to factors including access to physical and social infrastructure, local governance policies, sociopolitical hierarchies, and complexities of informal tenure. Drawing on sociocultural norms, and values of idol-crafting practices, it documents, analyses, and presents the networks and relations of the neighbourhood through a spatial and material lens. Findings contribute to understanding how traditional practices of a crafting community are adapting, appropriating, producing, and reshaping informal spaces in Kumartuli.

    The book is aimed at academic audiences across the world researching creative industries, Kolkata’s regeneration agenda, and cultural tourism. It will be of interest to the wide disciplines of Urban Studies, Development Studies, Architecture and Planning, and Culture and Tourism Studies.

    Chapter 1 Durga Puja, Kumartuli, and Kolkata

    Festival, religion, culture, and politics

    Colonial Calcutta’s Durga Puja

    Barowari brought inclusivity

    Cultural heritage, informality, and idol-crafting practice

    Structure of the book

    Chapter 2 Crafts and practitioners

                            Idol-crafting practice and sustainability

                            Kumbhakar caste relates to pottery

                            The caste-based potters’ para

                            Interwoven communities of practice

                            Emerging actors and shifts

    Chapter 3 The spaces of production

                            The neighbourhood

                            Streetscapes, alleys, riverfront

                            The conventional workshop-residence

                            The ‘factory-shed’ workshop

    Chapter 4 Seasonal adaptations and everyday negotiation

                            The preparation phase

                            Adaptation, accommodations, and negotiations

    Infrastructural disrepair and hopelessness

    Social cohesion, coordination, and competition

    Will Kumartuli continue to thrive?

    Chapter 5 Complexities

                            The redevelopment plan

                            Reaction and resistance to the KMDA plan

                            Tenure and ownership: realities

                            Informality in the heritage

    Chapter 6 The emerging and diverging spaces of production

                            Kumartuli on a regular day

                            Changing spaces: repurposed workshop

                            Agency and new typologies

                            Appropriation and socio-spatial relations

                            Spatial flexibility and reparation in a Kolkata basti

    Chapter 7 Kumartuli’s future?

                            Kumartuli’s present

                            Reparations and public services

                            Contributions and implications of this research


                            Personal reflections

    Methodological appendix: research strategies

    Glossary of Bengali words


    Debapriya Chakrabarti is a researcher in the field of urban studies at the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research and teaches at the Manchester School of Architecture. She is trained as an architect and urban planner. Her research interests lie at the intersection of urban regeneration, cultural industries, and place-based development policies.