ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

BengalSubscribe to Bengal

The Earning Bhadramahila and the ‘Endangered Race’

This paper attempts to document the changing attitude of sections of bhadralok in colonial Bengal towards middle-class women’s paid work. From the 1920s onwards, a number of journal editors and contributors, overcoming their earlier inhibitions, began to propagate middle-class women’s/widows’ economic independence. However, the nature and limits of the proposed economic independence of the new icon, the earning bhadramahila, were clearly defined by the new discourse on women and work. The same journals publicised a range of other issues including anxieties about the “declining number” as well as the “declining fortune” of Bengali Hindus.

Nostalgia, Belonging, and Healing

Thinking of Him tells interlinked tales of distress, oscillating between the past and the present.

Poetic Trends

With an overdose of self-pity, coyness, and excessive nature worship, the time is ripe for a renaissance of Bengali poetry.

Dancing the Night Away

The varied trajectories of Bengali cabaret/bar dancers who ferried themselves between the two cities of Mumbai and Kolkata in search of livelihood and shelter since the last decades of the 20th century are mapped. Taking Kolkata as the epicentre of research, the author proposes to trace the eviction drive of the city’s erotic dancers ascribing their large-scale exodus to the cultural crusade waged by the progressive state that forced out many poor and labouring dancers, calling them out as visceral symbols of apasanskriti or pervert culture.

The 1872 Census

Often cited as an exemplary form of the epistemological violence wrought by the British colonial rule in much postcolonial inquiry, the 1872 Census merits closer analysis in the context of wider 19th-century conversations about the so-called science of statistics. An in-depth study of the processes and reports reveals that the village munduls were in fact indispensable to the actual work of enumeration and the singular figure of “indigenous agency.” The role they played constituted an important condition of the possibility of implementing the census in late 19th-century Bengal.

An Appeal beyond Aesthetics

This essay probes the iconicity of New Theatres, exploring the hypothesis that its genesis in the 1930s was rooted in aspects of contemporary life in Bengal that went much beyond the realm of cinema. The objective is to look deeper and understand cinema as an institution with roots in the politics and economy of early 20th century Bengal.

Transcreating Another Kali

Song for Kali: A Cycle of Images and Songs by Nirode Mazumdar, inspired by Ram Proshad, English translation by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Seagull Books, Kolkata, 2000; pp 53, Rs 375.

Peasant Uprisings in Bengal

The history of the province of Bengal is marked by peasant uprisings during the second half of the 19th century. The surprising aspect of this phenomenon is that the political regime had been more oppressive during the Mughal era and during the rule of the British East India Company which ended in 1857. Using both mainstream and subaltern literature, this paper argues that the sudden rise of peasant revolutions in Bengal under the British crown can be explained by the theory of preference falsification on the part of the peasants before the period under discussion, which could help to explain such instances of social discontinuity in human behaviour.

Crop, Climate and Malaria

The decade of the 1870s was marked across Bengal by drastic rainfall variations, changing crop patterns and a devastating malarial epidemic that depopulated many villages. Though hampered by a paucity of data, this paper relying on contemporary records establishes the link between widespread incidence of malaria to not merely the declining water supply, but the increasing inaccessibility to existing water sources, thanks to the large-scale construction of embankments and the colonial reclamation of land.
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