SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Seminar- "Partition, Calcutta and the Crisis of Masculinity"

Dr Sutanuka Ghosh

Date: 20 September 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 20 September 2017Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51

Type of Event: Seminar


The partition of 1947 transformed Calcutta, the erstwhile first city of the British Empire. Almost overnight the margins of the city swelled and broke its banks and Calcutta metamorphosed into a seething and volatile post-partition city of millions of people, nursing the grief and despair of lost homes and identities of the bastu-hara, and the dream of finding life and living in the gigantic metropolis. This paper will be mapping the changing demographics as well as the sociology of spaces in post-partition Calcutta, to read shifting social relations in terms of class, caste, religion and gender. The focus will be primarily on the films of Ritwick Ghatak and the novels of Sabitri Roy while also referring to other fictional and autobiographical representations of the experience of Partition. As Ghatak himself acknowledged, Partition shaped his imaginary in very significant ways and Roy is perhaps the only Bengali novelist to have dedicated her entire oeuvre to narrating the experience of desh-bhag. The city was real in the daily humiliations and deprivations the refugees suffered and mythic in the dreams of plenty that it engendered among the destitute. The modern city and the changing architecture of private and public spaces also had an irrevocable impact on the subjectivities and familial and other relationships of the refugees. Not only did the politics and economics of migration transform power dynamics within the family, I argue, it also caused a significant crisis of masculinity that has scarcely been recognised.


Sutanuka Ghosh is an Assistant Professor at the Department of English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She completed her PhD in South Asian Studies at SOAS. Her doctoral dissertation Becoming a Bengali Woman: Exploring Identities in Bengali Women’s Fiction, 1930-1955 examined the representations of identity politics, negotiated by middle class women, in Bengali women's fictional writings on the independence movements and Partition. She works in the areas of Postcolonial Studies, Trauma Studies, Migration Studies, Life Writing and Gender Studies.

Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute

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