The Journey from Calcutta to Kolkata: Health, Sanitation and Contested spaces of Modernity

in Articles


Nabanita Paul

PhD Research Scholar
Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
SACT-I, Department of English, Chakdaha College

Abstract: This paper is going to be an attempt to understand the aesthetics of postcolonial modernism with reference to urban planning and the related discourse on health and sanitation. By taking the urban space of Calcutta/Kolkata as a site of modernity, this paper would try to map the entire project of modernization of the space both in colonial and post-colonial times through a critical lens and show how this Eurocentric model of modernity is confronted with aberrations from the city of a third world country. It also attempts to show how the debilitating presence of dirt, stench and poverty escaped the scopic regime of eighteenth century notion of European modernity. The paper also seeks to understand how the seemingly civilizing mission of urban planning of the colonial government became instrumental to invade the indigenous space and colonize it through the implementation of rigid segregationist policies.On account of its being the capital of the British Raj once, Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is full of colonial architecture. By closely examining the recent urbanization process, the paper intends to show how the city is still carrying forward its colonial legacy in terms of its involvement with the questions of health, sanitation and modernity. Finally, the paper discusses the possibility of an identity of the city other than its colonial heritage.

Key Words:British, Collonial, Health, Modernity, Modernism, Traditional, Sanitation