Beyond the Postcolonial City? India, Indigeneity, and the Modern City / Panel: The Bengal Lounge Debate—History, Empire, and the Contemporary City
Canada Research Chair in Global and Comparative History, Department of History, University of Victoria
Panelists include Lincoln Shlensky (University of Victoria), Sikata Banerjee (University of Victoria), and Ben Isitt (Victoria City Council), facilitated by Neilesh Bose (University of Victoria)
This City Talks event will consist of a presentation by Neilesh Bose followed by a panel discussion on the implications of closing the Bengal Lounge for rethinking the imperial legacies of contemporary urbanism in Victoria, British Columbia. Neilesh's presentation will offer an overview of the role of company-states and empires in modern urban history, from a look at the origins of divided urban spaces in seventeenth-century Company India to their transformations in tandem with a growing colonial order in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century India. With a focus on London and Calcutta as linked urban spaces in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this presentation introduces how the development of urban space relates to modern science, public health and sanitation, and the modern conception of race, as well as the global circulation of value through real estate speculation. Finally, the presentation will conclude by noting how the urban space of Calcutta in Company (1757 – 1857) and colonial (1858 – 1947) India transformed from a place of opulence and wealth, as well as geo-political strategy and power, into a model of racial segregation.