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Representing Calcutta through Handbooks, 1840-1940: Narrativizing City Space

Bhattacharya, Arunima (2018) Representing Calcutta through Handbooks, 1840-1940: Narrativizing City Space. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis is an attempt to understand, through the sub-genre of the Calcutta handbook, the development of a major city––Calcutta, the capital of British India till 1911––in the colonial context. The Calcutta handbook is a transitional form that mediates between early imperial vade-mecums and the late-colonial standardized guidebook. The thesis argues for a connection between the formal logic of the handbook sub-genre as it evolves over time (1840-1940) and the changing modalities of colonial modernity in Calcutta. Its main contention is that the handbooks published during this time, when read against the grain of dominant imperial discourses of colonial surveillance, reveal the governmental strategies that work to make people, spaces and social institutions, as well as literary and historical narratives, comply with accepted hierarchies of power. The thesis uses the handbooks to explore the condition of colonial modernity through governmental strategies arranged around historiography, the regulation of the body in both public and private domains of the city, and the spatialization of historical and racial discourses through maps and other visual images attached to the handbook text. The governmental strategies at work in the formal structure of the handbooks are seen through the Foucauldian concept of order, which manifests itself in the managing of spaces and bodies in the handbook text. The silences of the text, however––its numerous elisions and omissions––suggest that the handbooks cannot fulfill the colonial will to order; rather, they indicate an anxiety at the heart of an increasingly threatened empire that finds alternative expression in the indigenous will to dissent.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Calcutta, Handbooks, guidebooks, travel literature, colonial governmentality, colonial historiography, urban studies, spatiality, imperial nostalgia, colonial regulation and surveillance, mapping city space.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Arunima Bhatacharya
Date Deposited: 29 May 2019 08:50
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 08:50
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23871

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