POPULAR PRINT CULTURE
Popular Print Culture in the city of Kolkata
This site is the home of digitalised copies of print material collected from the ‘streets’ of Kolkata during May-July 2009. The field research that made this collection possible is part of a meta-project that intends to present a comparative study of 21st century popular print literature in a global scale. The meta-project entitled “Six Continents And Between” has collected and archived popular print materials from cities of Europe, North America, Asia and Africa; the artifacts were found in commonly accessible urban locations in their cultures of origin.
The project focusing on Kolkata analyses how print materials are popularly produced, circulated and consumed within the contemporary culture (as witnessed in 2009). Locations of “reading spaces”, “sale points” and “human and print material interaction” were recorded through ethnographic studies and interviews of urban citizens. The project studies the public culture of reading in public spaces, like trains, train stations, bus stops, buses, trams, footpaths, designated regions for book markets (boi para) as well as markets, parks etc. The idea was to observe how print material is collected and used by the contemporary reading audience in this city. Along with popular locations for selling these materials, the research also identified the popular genres according to age, sex, class position of the readers.
The summer of 2009 was a politically significant moment in the history of the city as thirty-four years of democratically elected communist regime ended later that year. During the summer, the city was thriving with election banners and political graffiti, and we tried the capture as much of it possible through our visual lens.
There were many challenges in the process of conducting this field research. Often times, it is harder to work across gender barriers and establish a working relationship with the hawkers and vendors, who sell books in public spaces. Collaboration was an important part of the trip. I extend my special thanks to Somnath Chakraborty, who helped me establish a dialogue with the subjects of interest for the project. Also, I am grateful to have a chance to consult scholars, who have worked or were working with popular print culture of the city at the time; Dr. Subha Chakraborty Dasgupta and Dr. Sukanta Chaudhuri were kind enough to talk to me and enlighten me about the prospects and procedures of a research project of this kind. I am also grateful to Dr. David Buchanan, who has helped me with his valuable suggestions regarding the digitalization procedures and design of the site. And last and most importantly I am indebted to Dr. Gary Kelly, the coordinator of this meta-project, who introduced me to this amazing field of popular print culture and generously supported the research with funding, advice and resources.
The material copies were collected from the city of Kolkata and shipped to Edmonton, Canada. Thereafter, I began the digitization process, which involved scanning/photographing of the materials and uploading them on this website.
Collection of the Printed materials:
The print materials were collected from diverse locations and sources in and around the city of Kolkata (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolkata):
-footpath (sidewalks) and railway station sale points: newspaper and bookstalls (both permanent and temporary)
-publishing and printing houses
-bookstores ans stalls in different parts of the city