Overview for The Parlour and the Streets
Sumanta Banerjee analyses the development of the various forms of folk culture of the urban poor in the new metropolis of Calcutta, as a fallout of the process of urbanization in the wake of the establishment of the British colonial system in Bengal. Consisting primarily of traditional artisans and craftsmen who migrated from the neighbouring villages, the lower orders of Calcutta evolved a new urban folk culture from their own older rural inheritance. Profusely illustrated with examples of contemporary street songs and popular performing arts, the book traces the beginnings of tension between these urban folk cultural forms and the new culture of the Bengali elite which was increasingly seeking to model itself on a culture that was western in inspiration. The author demonstrates how this new elite, shaped by the British colonial powers, not only disowned a common culture which it once shared with the populace, but also sought to muzzle it--a move which at political and other levels was to have serious consequences which were, and are, even today, all too apparent in the Bengali intellectual scene.
Sumanta Banerjee (Foroward)
Sumanta Banerjee, born in 1936 and educated in Calcutta, was formerly with The Statesman newspapers. He is best known for his The Simmering Revolution: The Naxalite Uprising and The Thema Books of Naxalite Poetry, two seminal texts on the Naxalite Revolt. His milestone study, The Parlour and the Streets: Elite and Popular Culture in Nineteenth Century Calcutta was published by Seagull in 1989. He is at present based in New Delhi, doing research on the popular culture and religion of Bengal.