Public lecture: Colonial Margins: Provincial Governance and Spatial Cultures in Eastern India / Tania Sengupta

Melbourne / April 9

Tania Sengupta (Bartlett, UCL) presents Reclaiming Colonial Architecture

This talk reflects on the mutual formations of two proximate strands that figured the spatial histories of the eastern Indian interiors in the nineteenth century: first, the architectures of British colonial provincial governance, and second, the wider formations of the mufassal (provincial regions) as physical and cultural sites.

In this talk Sengupta will narrate a spatial and lived story of the cutcherry in relation to that of the zilla sadar. Sengupta considers the district cutcherry over the nineteenth century as: a building typology; an arena of the Company’s (after 1858, the British Raj’s) technocratic public-works experiments; a site of day-to-day provincial governance and paper-bureaucracy; and a space of experience and subversions by Indian employees and visitors. Moving between different scales, the lives of provincial offices emerge here through their relationships with the wider provincial life of the zilla sadar: its landscape of residential and civic spaces also co-produced by Indians, its rural-urban character and other ambivalences, holding different meanings for Europeans and Indians. Through all this, Sengupta problematises notions of colonial margins, interiority, provinciality and colonial everyday worlds.

Tania Sengupta is joining ACAHUCH for April of 2024, supported by the Macgeorge Bequest at the University of Melbourne.

Tania Sengupta is an architect, urban designer and academic having earlier taught both architectural design and history/theory courses: at the TVB School of Habitat of Studies and other institutions in New Delhi and then in London, on the Architecture, Globalization and Cultural Identity Masters course at the University of Westminster. In 2011, Sengupta was appointed Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory at the BSA, UCL, and subsequently became the school’s Director of Architectural History and Theory in Jan 2019. Over the years, Sengupta havs pursued a view of architectural education that is geographically, culturally, socially and paradigmatically plural.

Sengupta is/has been engaged in various external platforms, such as: visiting research fellowships at the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies Berlin (2010) and the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg (2011); invited talks at e.g. the Oxford University Wellcome Unit for Medical History Research, University of Rennes France, National Cheng Kong University Taiwan, School of Planning and Architecture New Delhi; and keynote lecture at the Architecture and Bureaucracy conference in Brussels. she also serves as Co-editor-in-chief of the journal Architecture Beyond Europe (ABE, Sept 2019-); have been academic referee for e.g. Journal of Architecture, Urban History, The Society of Architectural Historians Journal, ABE Journal, Architecture and Culture; and contribute to public architectural discourse e.g. through ‘In-Conversation’ events and BBC Radio programmes.

Sengupta served as external examiner for M. Arch dissertations at Cardiff University (2016-2019); M. Phil/PhD dissertations at Cambridge University (2016-2019), University of London and National Cheng Kong University Taiwan. She also represents the BSA at the Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA), is on the advisory panel for the AHRA Architecture and Collective Life Conference, Dundee, 2019, and is an active member of UCL Centre for the Study of South Asia and the Indian Ocean World.

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