This talk explores how the cultural politics of elemental media influence crisis narratives produced in relation to urban change. Taking Calcutta as a case study, Doctoral Candidate Somak Mukherjee argues that the crisis of postcolonial cities has a distinct ecological imaginary, borne of tension between mediated pairings of elements and more typical civic imaginaries such as civility, citizenship, community, development, or progress. Four examples of elements—earth, air, water, and fire—are used as representative figures to explore how their cultural registers comment on questions of method, archives, and media in thinking about urban space. The presentation will be followed by a discussion moderated by Surojit Kayal.
The meeting is open to all but we do ask you to register to attend so that we can spend our time in the meeting as productively as possible. Please register by February 18. After you’ve registered, you will receive a Zoom invitation as well as a 1,000-word document introducing the research that we ask that you read before the meeting. Please see the information sheet “Sustainability and the New Human IHC Research Focus Group Meetings” for more information about this and the structure of the meeting.
Somak Mukherjee is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at UCSB. His interests lie at the intersection of Environmental Media and Criticism, Urban History, and Postcolonial Studies. Somak’s writings have appeared in various print and digital publications in India, including Huffington Post, Scroll, The Citizen, Humanities Underground, and Anandabazar Patrika (ABP).
Surojit Kayal is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at UCSB. His interests include environmental media, science and technology studies, digital culture, and postcolonial studies. Surojit has written previously on environmental communities, digital technologies and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sponsored by the IHC’s Sustainability and the New Human Research Focus Group
Image: The mouth of the Sealdah bound tunnel as can be seen from the Esplanade station of East West Metro in Kolkata, November 2020. Image Courtesy: Metro Railways Kolkata