This weekend is the final gathering of the ‘Envisioning the Indian City’ project team in Kolkata, as well as the launch of our Augmented Reality app that overlays historical photographs of Kolkata onto contemporary cartography. If you are in Kolkata please do join us.
Cities are inhabited spaces felt through all our senses, especially those of touch, hearing, smell, and so on. In representation, in imagination, in planning and conceptualization, however, they are above all visualized spaces, appearing before our eyes as seen, remembered, or projected. This one-day symposium will focus on the ways in which cities and city-spaces are experienced through the visual register, though we want to interpret this term as widely as possible to include modes of conceptualizing or laying out city-spaces.
Through a series of presentations from architects, historians, literary scholars and art historians, we wish to bring out multiple ways of seeing the city: as a planned (or not-so-planned) space fitting into a conceptual grid; as a scenic location represented through art or captured in memory; and as a visual experience that feeds into the phantasmagoria of city life. Individual presenters may bring out even more nuanced ways of visualizing the city and historic proto-city sites.
The symposium is the last in a series of international workshops and research seminars under the UGC-UKIERI International Thematic Partnership ‘Envisioning the Indian City: Researching Cross-cultural Exchanges in Colonial and Post-colonial India ’ between the University of Liverpool and Jadavpur University, 2013-15: https://eticproject. wordpress.com. This research project focused on four significant city-sites, Goa, Pondicherry, Kolkata and Chandigarh – the first three originating in distinct colonial encounters (with the Portuguese, the French and the British) and the fourth a creation of the post-colonial Indian state. However, in the course of research, other cities and other ways of understanding or viewing urbanity also came into focus, and our work was immeasurably enriched by the contributions of urban historians and scholars worldwide, as part of an ongoing conversation about cities, space, modernity, and cross-cultural encounters.
In the last phase of the project, our team has been developing the Kolkata layers for the Augmented Reality App through which historic photographs and other archival footage related to existing city-sites can be accessed on one’s mobile phone. This final phase of project research has been enabled by a generous grant from the University of Liverpool and the archival resources of the British Library’s Photographic Collection. We have also been greatly assisted by support from our other non-HEI associates, such as the Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, where the AR App, Timescape Kolkata, will be launched on 28th November at 6 pm, after a panel discussion featuring urban specialists and advisors to the project: Timescape Kolkata: Seeing the Past in the Present.
The day-long symposium on Visualizing the City (Jadavpur University, 10 am – 4.30 pm), however, is not simply a prelude to the launch. It will draw together perspectives from architecture, town planning, history, art, literature and contemporary urban culture to reflect on the major project theme of ‘Envisioning the Indian City’. Our invited speakers are Professors Miki Desai (CEPT Ahmedabad), Snehanshu Mukherji (Architect; Visiting Faculty, SPA Delhi), Swapan Chakravorty (Presidency University), Tapati Guha-Thakurta (CSSSCal), Jonathan Gil Harris (Ashoka University) and Dhir Sarangi (Jawaharlal Nehru University). Entry to the symposium and launch are free and we welcome participation and interaction.
Introductory Remarks and Welcome to Participants: Nandini Das (University of Liverpool) and Supriya Chaudhuri (Jadavpur University), ETIC Project Coordinators
10.15 am – 11.45 am: Session 1: Chair, Nandini Das
Jonathan Gil Harris (Ashoka University): From the Ethiopian Highlands and Baghdad to the Nehr-e-Ambari: How to Build a Transnational Deccan City Dhir Sarangi (Jawaharlal Nehru University): French Visualizations of India through Maps and Drawings from the 18th Century
- 45 am – 12 noon: Coffee
12 noon – 1.30 pm: Session 2: Chair, Nilanjana Gupta
Snehanshu Mukherjee (TEAM/ Visiting Faculty, SPA Delhi): The Vanishing City
Miki Desai (CEPT Ahmedabad): Towns in Transition: a Missing Link in Visualizing the Indian Urbanity: Case Study, Gujarat
1.30 pm – 2.30 pm Lunch
2.30 pm – 4.00 pm: Session 3: Chair, Supriya Chaudhuri
Tapati Guha-Thakurta (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta): The City in the Archive: Calcutta’s Visual Histories
Swapan Chakravorty (Presidency University): ‘All Its Several Lodgings Composed’: Visualizing Houses of Art for a New Kolkata
All are welcome.
Please join us after the Symposium for the launch of the AR App, Timescape: Kolkata, at Victoria Memorial Hall, 6 pm