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Space of Deprivation

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The 19th Century Bengali Kerani in the Bhadrolok Milieu of Calcutta

image of Asian Journal of Social Science

A much neglected section of the 19th Century imperial bhadrolok population during British rule in India was the Bengali clerk or the kerani. While his English education and caste identity likened him to the middle-class gentleman, his pattern of work, low salary, lack of opportunities for improvement, pushed him closer to the labour class. But was this neglected section of the “bhadrolok” always without his representational space? In this paper, I shall study examples from clerks’ memoirs and from contemporary literature and read them alongside the violently repressive The Clerk’s Manual published in 1889, to see if the clerk was secretly discovering a heterotopia of his own.

Affiliations: 1: Presidency University


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