Cornell University

Durba Ghosh, "Moving Monuments: Colonial and Postcolonial Commemorations in the British Empire"

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 4:45pm to 6:00pm

Goldwin Smith Hall, Kaufmann Auditorium
232 East Ave, Central Campus

This talk considers the movement and replacement of postcolonial monuments on the Indian subcontinent. While the destruction of statues at moments of regime change were widely feared, several monuments were moved to different locations in India and locations in the British empire. In following the travels of several statues, the talk analyzes how monuments mark time and space as they elaborate new imperial and national formations in the prolonged postcolonial moment.  

Durba Ghosh is Professor of History at Cornell and Director of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. She has taught courses and written numerous articles on modern South Asia, the British empire, gender, and colonialism.  Her first book, Sex and the Family in Colonial India (Cambridge UP, 2006) is an important challenge to traditional historiography, as it situates the stories of a number of mixed-race families, at all levels of the social scale, to offer an account of how gender, class, and race affected the cultural, social, and even political mores of the period. These accounts highlight anxieties about social status, appropriate sexuality, and the question of who could be counted as “British” or “Indian,” ideas that were constant concerns of the colonial government.  Professor Durba’s recent book Gentlemanly Terrorists (Cambridge UP, 2017), which looks at the violence of elite colonial militants in India between 1919 and 1947, was named as of the 2017’s best history books.  Her current project focuses on commemorations of freedom fighters, and the ways in which political violence against the British colonial state became an important, but historically underemphasized, form of protest. 

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, History, Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), South Asia Program, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


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