Our Speakers

Ms. Raina Ghosh

Jawaharlal Nehru University

About the speaker

Raina is currently an ICSSR Doctoral Fellow (2021-’22) at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She completed her M.A., M.Phil from JNU and is a human Geographer by training. She works on the themes of urban political ecology, spatial urban politics of Global South, and water-society relations. Her thesis studies the everyday city-making processes around ‘Ghats’ of River Hooghly in Kolkata, India.

She has worked extensively in the field of urban as a research fellow in various collaborative projects with the ESRC-University of Bristol, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung-CES Delhi, IIT Kharagpur, India, and so on. She has been the recipient of the prestigious Writing Urban India Fellowship in 2023 (WUI 2.0) by the Centre for Policy Research, India, and has presented papers at various annual international conferences organized by RGS-IBS, ISA – RC 21, IGU, King’s India Institute, BASAS, and published papers in noted journals like EPW, RUA, Opinion pieces in LiveWire, Beejpatra etc.

Presentation highlights

  • Who are the actors and what are the activities making up the everyday spaces of ghats?
  • How do unequal power relations shape up the space of ghats?
  • How do ghats act as margins to the city?

Paper Abstract

Powerplays at the Margins: Situated Cultural politics in the making of Ghats of Kolkata

The work attempts to present a theoretical relook at the concept of margins in Southern Urban practices against the backdrop of urbanization in Asian cities, whereby the marginality of the ghats (steps leading down to the river) is understood in extension to the theorization of Global South as a metaphor for unequal power relations. The history of Kolkata’s ghats has been quintessentially a montage of a deltaic village’s transition to a megacity, its labour, livelihoods and political ecologies around a long, muddy, aqueous terrain. Urban Scholarship has established the role played by capital in appropriating everyday city spaces by valorising certain spaces and discarding others. However, field observations reveal that in the production of urban, one must also take into account entanglements of culture, ecology, religion, gender and situated histories of knowledge that shape up subjectivities and the nature of powerplays in the making of Hooghly’s riverfronts. Using Lefebvre’s triad of ‘Production of Space’, I, argue that the everyday spaces of ghats are lived spaces at the land-water interfaces, which have been pushed to the margins of amnesia in the hustle of world-class placemaking practices through grand beautification projects. Ghats here present a constituency of city-makers with their subcultural, affirmative claims to the city through the production of vernacular, situated urban spaces which are never marginal to the everyday process of building and sustaining the city; but only appear ‘marginal’ to the accumulative strategies of capital.

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