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By Amit Chaudhuri

The award-winning writer Amit Chaudhuri has been extensively praised for the sweetness and refined energy of his writing and for the ways that he makes “place” as advanced a personality as his women and men. Now he brings those presents to a spellbinding amalgam of memoir, reportage, and historical past during this intimate, luminous portrait of Calcutta.

Chaudhuri courses us during the urban the place he was once born, the house he enjoyed as a toddler, the environment of his acclaimed novels—a position he now reveals beautiful for the entire methods it has, and, maybe extra powerfully, has no longer, replaced. He exhibits us a urban fairly untouched by means of the currents of globalization yet possessed of a “self-renewing approach of seeing, of inhabiting house, of apprehending life.” he's taking us alongside vivid avenues and derelict alleyways; introduces us to intellectuals, Marxists, participants of the declining haute bourgeoisie, highway owners, family employees; brings to lifestyles the city’s sounds and scents, its structure, its conventional outlets and eating places, new department stores and motels. And, utilizing the historical elections of 2011 as a fulcrum, Chaudhuri seems again to the 19th century, while town burst with a brand new energy, and towards the politics of the current, discovering a urban “still now not recovered from history” but possessed of a novel modernity.

Chaudhuri observes and writes approximately Calcutta with infrequent candor and readability, making graspable the advanced, finally ineluctable purposes for his passionate attachment to where and its people. 

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Additional info for Calcutta: Two Years in the City

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1987: 98), and “Kaffir” in Sri Lanka (De Silva Jayasuriya 2002). The Sidi, possibly the most visible “African” grouping in contemporary India, are concentrated in Gujarat (especially in the Gir forest villages of Jambar, Sirwan, Moruka, and Akolbadi in the Junagadh district) (Bhattacharya 1970: 579), with smaller communities in Maharashtra, Karnataka (Western Ghat forests of North Kanara), Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Diu (Basu 2002; Ali 1996: 223; Vijayakumar 1987: 98; Prashad 2000: 195; K. Cooper 1999; Obeng 2000).

This forms the backdrop against which IOW systems of servile labor should be considered. In hard years, densely populated monocrop regions, such as Makassar in Indonesia and areas of South India, exported the destitute as slaves (Boomgaard 2004). In China, desperate parents sold prepubescent daughters to anyone who could feed or clothe them (Warren 1994: 80). The trade in children, outright, as redeemable “pawns,” or for adoption, was frequently a measure of last resort during disastrous times, taken because it might ensure survival for both remaining kin members and the enslaved child.

4 Overlapping statuses renders it difficult to forge 26 Gwyn Campbell hard and fast distinctions between types of servitude, or to contrast “slave” with “free” for, as Anthony Reid underlines, the concept of personal freedom can only be pitched against that of slavery when all other forms of servitude are subsumed into a clearly defined category of “slaves” (Reid 1983: 21). The meaning of IOW systems of slavery becomes clearer if Western notions of a division of society into free and slave, of individual liberty, and of slaves as property are replaced by a vision of society as a hierarchy of dependency in which “slaves” constituted one of a number of servile groups that performed both productive and nominally unproductive ser vices.

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