Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

Ordinary Ruptures: The Periodical and Print Cultures of Tidal Environmentalism in Indian Sundarbans - 14 February 2023

Please note that this event has passed.

In the frame of the IATIO project, India and the Indian Ocean in the Early Decolonial Period: Archipelagic Imaginaries, 1950s-1970s, Dr Luca Raimondi, MSCA Global Fellow on the project, and Professor Ananya Jahanara Kabir, project PI, are organising a seminar on the theme of ‘Archipelagic Indias’.

In this talk, Sritama examines contemporary print cultures of Indian Sundarbans by focusing on a representative periodical publication Nimnogangeyo Sundarban Sanskriti Potro (Lower Gangetic Sundarbans Cultural Letters) to ask: how does the topography and ephemerality of tidal geographies inspire the form of the periodical in the Sundarbans? As a literary scholar of the Indian Ocean world, she is interested in the periodical form in the Sundarbans because this periodical embraces a vision of environmentalism that cannot be encapsulated within the binary between “disaster imagination’, owing to the number of cyclones in littoral Bengal signaling climate emergency and voyeuristic viewing, as a place that can disappear under the sea. Instead, she argues that the periodical form through its narrative experimentation embraces a quiet and subtle method of environmental justice where the focus is on the ordinariness and granularity of tidal environments.

This reflection on the periodical form in the archipelago leads her to ask a larger question: Can ordinariness in aesthetics inspire radical environmental politics and change in the Indian Ocean archipelago? She hopes that coming up with a provisional response to the aesthetic questions about ordinariness in print cultures will help her work towards an ethical literary environmental criticism, where the ordinary is an aesthetic and political category that is at once reparative against the climate catastrophe of empire as well as violent by not being legible. The periodical form allows her to demonstrate that a more productive way to engage with archipelagic environments is not to escape from ‘crises’ but to consider the possibilities that Indian Ocean cultural studies open when we look at climate through the lens of the ordinary. Therefore, she develops a method of environmental literary criticism in the Indian Ocean archipelago that is attentive to the ruptures and the disturbances that the ordinary invokes, and yet it inspires the possibility of care and repair.

About the speaker

Sritama Chatterjee

Sritama Chatterjee is a PhD student in the Department of English, University of Pittsburgh. She works at the intersections of Postcolonial Studies, Indian Ocean Studies, Environmental Humanities, and Feminist Studies. Her dissertation project, titled “Ordinary Environments and Aesthetics in Contemporary Indian Ocean Archipelagic Writing,” has been awarded an Andrew Mellon Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from the graduate school for outstanding research and scholarly excellence. Her work on the Indian Ocean archipelagos also takes the shape of a collaborative public-facing community project, Delta Lives, which allows communities in Sundarbans to use their audio and visual storytelling skills in the digital realm to contest the mainstream narratives that circulate in the media about Sundarbans. Sritama currently serves as the Research advisor of the project and as Spoken English instructor, with specific attention to narrative storytelling and exhibit curation.

Search for another event

Event details

14 February 2023

Online event