Recording of Tapati Guha Thakurta’s keynote lecture at the Unfinished Empire? conference

The keynote lecture at our conference Unfinished Empire? Visual Arts and Architecture in Post-Imperial Contexts, 1900–2022 was presented by Professor Tapati Guha Thakurta (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata) on 19 May 2023. A recording of the lecture is now available on our Youtube channel.


From an Imperial to a National Genre: The Changing Landscape of Calcutta’s Colonial and Post-Colonial Statuary, 1920s-1960s

This lecture will discuss the persistence and proliferation of the genre of civic public statuary in India and its shifting cast of characters. It will focus on a city that was the seat of the British empire in India until 1911 (when the capital shifted to New Delhi) and witnessed the installation of the largest repertoire of imperial sculpture over the nineteenth and early twentieth century, much of which curiously remained in place in the city for two decades after India’s independence in 1947. This paradox will remain a central theme, as I explore various moments in the many travels, dislocations and relocations of Calcutta’s imperial statues while charting a small parallel history of Indian statue-making over these transitional decades of the last years of British rule and the coming of Independence.

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