Neighbourhood, city, diaspora: identity and belonging for Calcutta’s Anglo-Indian and Chinese communities
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This thesis is located in the wider debates in postcolonial cultural geography on the city and diaspora. It engages with everyday lived spaces of Calcutta’s Anglo-Indian and Chinese communities through a focus on ideas of home, identity, belonging, cosmopolitanism and nostalgia. Drawing on overlapping narratives of these two communities in the city and in diaspora in London and Toronto, the thesis explores the idea of Calcutta as a ‘diaspora city’ and also the notion of a ‘Calcutta diaspora’. It explores the material and imaginative entanglements of migration and places narratives of identity and belonging for its Anglo-Indian and Chinese communities in the context of the city. Both Anglo-Indian and Chinese communities have been an integral part of Calcutta’s colonial and postcolonial histories, and although many members of both communities have migrated elsewhere in recent times, the city remains an important locus of emotional register. It is in this context that the thesis studies everyday lived spaces at different scales: in the neighbourhood, in the city and in diaspora. While the actual spaces are located/ rooted in real neighbourhoods and cities inhabited by the communities, the imagination of these spaces both in the city and in diaspora also intersect to create a more complex relationship between minority communities and cities. Methodologically, the thesis has adopted a multi-sited, qualitative approach to follow the lives of the communities across cities. Whilst a large part of the material has been drawn from in-depth interviews, the thesis also uses material drawn through ethnographic research and participant observation at community events, maps of the neighbourhood and city drawn by interviewees and secondary material such as community publications and websites, films, pamphlets and newspaper reports.
AuthorsBonnerjee, Jayani Jeanne
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