ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Space and Time Through an Urban-Industrial Hinterland

Ethnographic accounts have provided vivid accounts of the colonial encounter, and encounters with industrial capitalism. This article argues that space be seen as an encounter of time(s). It concurs with Doreen Massey’s thesis of space as a combination of trajectories and a place as a socio-historical event. A major force that shapes the contours and trajectories of space is capital. This is a preliminary attempt to process theoretically the entanglements of time and space, based on ethnographic research in Howrah. Structures of globally dispersed systems of capital shape a particular slice of landscape on the west bank of a river a little north of the Bay of Bengal.

This article has emerged out of conversations with, and the support of K Sivaramakrishnan, Vinay Gidwani, Erik Harms, Anand Pandian, Abhayraj Naik, Vishnupad, Daniel Schultz, Erin Soros, Jacob Neremberg, and many others. The author’s ethnographic research in Howrah was generously supported by the Yale South Asian Studies Council and American Institute of Indian Studies. All errors remain the responsibility of the author.

A half-pedalling bicycle comes along. With it, a toothy grin. What’s all the stuff in your bag? It looks really heavy. Why, you wanna carry it? I would, but then my cycle … A minute-long dream-run when time is slowed down to an almost-stop. The daily trickle of men, material, and transport rues in the September heat the precariousness of half-pedal love. Blue pyjamas and white kurta, braids and beads of sweat. Blockbuster songs of not-so-known movies blare on the loudspeaker. It is the hangover day after Vishvakarma Puja. Slow movement of cycling desire stretches time out, across a September afternoon. A bit like the slow murky river that had only ever known the route into the ocean.

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Updated On : 21st Nov, 2017
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