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Hybrid identities: 'Public' and 'private' life in the courtyard houses of Barabazaar, Kolkata, India
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Dr Martin Beattie
Constructing Place: Mind and the Matter of Place-making
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This study surveys four courtyard houses owned by three families in Barabazaar, Kolkata. I begin by outlining how nineteenth century Bengali modernity negotiated the distinction between ‘private’, and ‘public’ life, in re-constituting itself within a world shaped by colonialism. Next, I explain the primary precedent for the case studies, namely, Nabakrishna Deb’s complex of houses in Shobhabazaar. After describing the social organisation of the courtyard house, it is the distinction between ‘private’ living and ‘public’ ritual/work space that is explored more fully in the case studies. I conclude by reflecting on the changing and contradictory distinction between ‘private’ and ‘public’ life, and on a Bengali modernity that is still being negotiated today.
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