Dreaming of Diasporas: Urban Developments and Transnational Identities in Contemporary Kolkata

Pablo S. Bose

Abstract


This paper examines the contested nature of diasporas and their complex involvement in dynamics of international development by focusing on the recent construction of luxury condominiums on the fringes of the Indian metropolis of Kolkata. These new housing projects are built and marketed with a self-consciously global aesthetic and are actively promoted to both overseas Indian communities and local elites as spaces in which one can take up an explicitly “international” identity. This paper argues that these discourses and developments regarding life-space and lifestyle are part of a broader project intended to help Kolkata regain its glory as a “world city.” Furthermore, it is suggested that the deployment of the heavily mythologized figure of the global Indian is a crucial element for mobilizing key actors and constituting material transformations in the postcolonial city.

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