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The Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC) is an autonomous research centre devoted to the research and advancement of the social sciences in South Asia. It is one of the leading social science think tanks in India and is also well known internationally.

History

Directors


The Calcutta Centre was initially set up in a few rooms at the back of the Anthropological Survey of India in Calcutta. Meanwhile, search for a new building for the Centre had begun. The former residence of one of the doyens of Indian history, Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1870-1958) and his wife Lady Kadambini Sarkar (1880-1964), then a two storied house, at 10, Lake Terrace, Calcutta, was ideally suited for the setting up of the Centre. In her will Lady Kadambini stated that the house should be sold and the proceeds from it donated to a hospital. The ICSSR bought this house from the trustees of the will, and rented it to the Centre in 1973. The management of the Centre subsequently bought the house and remained in it from January 26, 1973 to March 1, 2000, when the Centre was moved to its new premises at Baishnabghata-Patuli Township, Calcutta. The land on which the new building was built was bought in the early 1980s.

Administration

It is financed primarily by grants from the ICSSR, New Delhimarker, the Government of Indiamarker, and the Government of West Bengalmarker, with full academic autonomy. The present Chairman of the Board of Governors is Professor Sabyasachi Bhattacharya. The other members of the Board include the Director, Member Secretary of the ICSSR, Higher education Secretary of the Government of West Bengal, Vice-Chancellors of premier universities of West Bengal, especially the University of Calcutta, one eminent academic and senior Professors of the Centre. The present Director is Professor Sugata Marjit and the present Registrar is Dr. Surajit C. Mukhopadhyay.

Academics

The Centre is an interdisciplinary consortium of juinor and senior scholars. Its current faculty consists of: Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, Rosinka Chaudhuri, Anirban Das, Manas Ray (Cultural Studies), Sohel Firdos (Development Studies), Pranab Kumar Das, Jyotsna Jalan, Saibal Kar, Indrajit Mallick, Sugata Marjit (Economics), Priya Sangameswaran (Environmental Studies), Keya Dasgupta (Geography), Raziuddin Aquil, Gautam Bhadra, Bodhisattva Kar, Janaki Nair, Tapati Guha Thakurta (History), Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, Partha Chatterjee, Anjan Ghosh, Manabi Majumdar, Mollica Dastider (Political Science).It runs the Research Training Programme (RTP) for M.Phil. level students. Ph.D. students of the University of Calcutta and Jadavpur University are also associated with it. The Centre has always had a strong faculty, boasting of several very well known and internationally renowned scholars. Some of the former members of its faculty have completed books and novels at the Centre that are extremely well known. For example, Amitav Ghosh completed the writing of his novel In An Antique Land while he was a Fellow of the CSSSC.

The CSSSC has regularly organised and published the R.C.Dutt Memorial Lecture in economics and S.G.Deuskar Lecture in history. Some of the eminent scholars who have been invited to deliver the R.C.Dutt Lecture include:

Some of the eminent scholars who have delivered the S.G.Deuskar Lecture include:

Library

The CSSSC has a well managed reference library in its main campus. For details please see http://www.cssscal.org/library.html

Urban History Documentation Archive

An overview on the collection and activities of the urban history documentation archive at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

Background:In 1993 with the documentation of rare texts, the archive of a combined pool of textual and visual materials relating to the social and cultural history of Bengal as well as of Eastern India began at the CSSSC. The archive started with documentation through microfilming of rare periodicals in vernacular from various institutional and private collections in indifferent state of preservation and also not reproduced by other institutions, libraries and archives. The initial phase of documentation was mainly supported by the ENRECA programme on Urbanism and Democracy. From 1996 with a small grant from the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA), the CSSSC started documentation of early popular visual materials, modern academic paintings and prints and photographs, all through photographic reproduction. By 1998, the documentation programme got a permanent place as an archive on modernism in Bengal and was named Hitesranjan Sanyal Memorial Archive. From 2000 it took another project of documentation of advertisements and commercial arts in Bengal, yet another unexplored chapter of the history of culture and entrepreneurship in Bengal. From 2003 the archive, besides documentation, focused on digitisation and preparation for online access of the entire holding and till present day the work continues.

Strength:Text on microform: At present the archive has about 1200 microfilm (35mm Master-negative) rolls comprising about two million pages of documents, mostly rare periodicals and some books mostly microfilmed from the collections of Bangiya Sahitya Parishat, Konnagar Public Library and Mohiary Public Library, Shilpasram, Purulia and the private collections of Indranath Majumder and others. In addition, reports of land settlement from the collection of the Directorate of Survey and Settlement, Government of West Bengal; a few manuscripts and a collection of cartographic materials, mainly survey maps of the districts of Bengal have also been microfilmed. The collection of texts made the archive beneficial to scholars in several ways: Most of the titles of the periodicals are not available at the India and Oriental Collection of the British Library or any other important institutional collections. In the collection of periodicals, we have titles on public health, hygiene and medicine from the seventh decade of the 19th century; those cataloguing records are not available on OCLC Worldcat. We have almost entire run of well known and well-circulated periodicals, such as, Bharati, Bharatbarsa, Sahitya, Masik Basumati etc., most of the cataloguing records on the Worldcat has only a few sporadic volumes of those important titles. One special attraction of the periodicals collection is the periodicals on regional history and culture and on caste. In 2004, we have microfilmed the entire run of the periodical Mukti, which is a fresh addition in global bibliographic records and documentation. This is an important publication from Purulia, a town of the then Manbhum district in Bihar, began publishing in 1922, proscribed several times and still run by the Lok Sevak Sangh - a socialist faction of the Gandhian Indian National Congress. In the year 2005 we have digitised one of the leading daily in vernacular, Jugantar from 1937 to 1980. Among recent inclusions, the archive microfilmed and digitised a significant collection of Assamese print-literature from the collection of the Assam Sahitya Sabha, Jorhat, Assam and a few titles of periodicals, including Prabasi and Bicitra being microfilmed from the Rabindra Bharati University.

In the visual archive:The archive has about 30,000 early popular paintings and prints, modern academic paintings and photographs, mostly as colour transparencies, negative strips, and in digital format, the archive also has two collections of original photographs during the period of 1870 – 1940, acquired from two private collections, one of Sm. Sevati Mitra and the other in the custody of Prof. Barun De. The visual archive has a wide range of visual materials starting from early popular paintings and prints, especially, Kalighat Paintings and Battala wood engravings from the private collection of Radha Prasad Gupta, early modern mythological oil paintings from the collection of the Chitrakoot Art Gallery, Modern Academic paintings starting from the late 19th century Government Art College trained artists till the contemporaries including, Atul Bose, Amina Ahmed Kar and Gobardhan Ash. The backbone of the collection of photographs at the archive are studio photographs (cabinet portrait and carté de visit) mostly from family albums, industrial photographs taken by Ahmed Ali, copies of photographs on Calcutta from the Chitrabani Society, Amateur photographers works of Debaleena Majumder, Parimal Goswami and Kamakshiprasad Chattopadhyay are also part of the collection.

In addition, a set of promotional pamphlets and catalogue of recorded music from 1930s to 1950s are available in microfilm and about 10,000 visual items on advertisement and commercial arts are available in various reprographic manner. The texts of advertisements published in vernacular are also available at the archive right from the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Digitisation and cataloguing: All the microfilms at the archive are getting digitised using roll-film scanner at the RMRL, Chennai in 400 dpi TIFF file format and at the archive the personnel are currently engaged in cropping, cleaning and making PDF files in e-book format of the same digitised images. Most of the microfilm rolls from the CSSSC archive have been digitally retrieved and indexed and ready for unrestricted online access. The digitisation of visual materials is also in progress. All the text documents at the archive have been computed in electronic form in full level MARC 21 data structure. The cataloguing of visual materials is yet to begin; initially for some troubleshooting in image integration using open access software, and later for a suitable database structure in MARC 21 format. It is expected that these problem will be resolved shortly and soon the cataloguing process will commence.

Dissemination: As part of a continuous effort for dissemination of the archival materials, the archive so far published a descriptive catalogue (A Guide to the Hitesranjan Sanyal Memorial Collection, Abhijit Bhattacharya, CSSSC, 1998). Pradip Bose published an anthology in Bangla (Samayiki: Unish Shatake Banglaye Bijnan O Samaj, Ananda Publishers, Calcutta, 1998); another book in the same series on family is awaiting publication. Pradip Bose also contributed one volume in English of articles published on health in 19th century Bengali periodicals (Health and Society in Bengal: A selection from late 19th century Bengali periodicals, Sage, New Delhi, 2006). Tapati Guha-Thakurta authored a book, on the occasion of an exhibition titled Visual Worlds of Modern Bengal held at the gallery of Seagull Foundation for the Arts in March and April 2002 (Visual Worlds of Modern Bengal: Selections from the Documentation Archive of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, Seagull and CSSSC, Calcutta, 2002) in the same fashion, another exhibition on the pattern of tea consumption and tea-culture in Bengal, was curated at the Gaganendra Pradarshashala, Calcutta in December 2005 by the archival staff of the CSSSC. A book by Gautam Bhadra was published along with the exhibition (From an Imperial Product to a National Drink: The culture of tea consumption in modern India, CSSSC and Tea Board India, Calcutta, 2005). These two exhibitions are major steps towards dissemination of archival documents.

Usage and facilities: Post-graduate or doctoral students, members of faculty of any university / college / institution and bona-fide researchers may obtain membership free of cost for consulting the archival documents. Reproduction facilities from microfilms and images are available. Access to the visual and printed documents published after 1956 is not open to ensure protection of intellectual and artistic copyrights. On an average 50 to 60 scholars and students consult the archive every year.

Special projects:Apart from the documentation programme, the archive is now engaged in several collaborative projects, some of them are:

Survey of Libraries and Archives in Eastern India and Bangladesh:The CSSSC is currently engaged in a survey of libraries and archives in Bangladesh and in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura among Eastern Indian provinces. This is a collaborative project with the Center for South Asia Libraries (CSAL), and the survey aims to a broader project on South Asia Union Catalogue [Phase: II] in collaboration with University of Chicago and Center for Research Libraries in USA and Roja Muthiah Research Library, Chennai as member institute in South Asia. The project will be housed in the CSSSC with an aim to compute all available bibliographic records published in any South Asian languages from Eastern India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Colonial Burma in a single database and upload the same in Online Public Access Cataloguing system. An earlier version of the survey, conducted independently by the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta is available on http://dsal.uchicago.edu/csal/surveys/eastern-south-asia-survey.rtf. Abhijit Bhattacharya coordinated the project on survey and bibliography on behalf of the Centre. The final report of the survey has been published in May 2006 and the bibliography project started from June 2006 is continuing for three years with financial support from National Endowment for Humanities, USA.

Indexing of Articles from 19th and early 20th century periodicals:This is a collaborative project between the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), Chicago. The purpose of the project was indexing of articles in selected periodicals, especially on health and hygiene, published in 19th and early 20th century journals which have been already documented by the archive of the CSSSC. The index has been published in electronic format along with the journal articles, wherever possible, following the Online Public Access Cataloguing system. Abhijit Bhattacharya was the coordinator of the project.

South Asia Union Catalogue Project:The project is sponsored by the Center for South Asia Libraries (CSAL), Chicago for computing all bibliographic records published in South Asia from its earliest instance to 1959 has been uploaded in a central server and has been given an open access to the database for the scholars. The initiative of preparing such a database was taken in 2003 as South Asia Union Catalog and for smooth functioning of the project the South Asian region was divided in four phases. The CSSSC, a member institute of the CSAL for the bibliographic and archiving projects is the base for the Phase - 2 to cover Eastern Indian provinces, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Colonial Burma. This is a quadrangular project with University of Chicago, Center for Research Libraries, Chicago, CSSSC and Roja Muthiah Research Library, Chennai and is expected to be completed by 2009. Abhijit Bhattacharya is acting as coordinator of South Asia for the project.

A Cultural History Archive for Eastern India:The project is a follow-up of an earlier project on ‘A Cultural history Archives for eastern India’. This new project which is proposed has begun from January 2008 and will end in December 2010. The project will consolidate and extend the archive collection on the eastern Indian region and extend its holdings, accessibility and training programmes to other institutions through collaborative arrangements. It will fine tune, strengthen, and carry forward the research and training activities in India’s cultural history in close collaboration with the academic community.

In this new project, special efforts will be made to emphasize research on regional language material and on the cultural lives of marginalized and disadvantaged sections of the population. Structures of exclusion and marginalization operational in the formation of various domains of cultural lives in India were an important concern in the earlier phase of the project. The proposed project will look more closely into the cultural life of disadvantaged groups and also enabled an increased participation of scholars from these backgrounds in the projects activities. The project will focus on Bengal and the Eastern and North-east Indian regions.

The new project proposes to strengthen and extend the existing archival activities of the Centre. While consolidating its collections on the eastern Indian region and making it more comprehensive, it will also extend the coverage of the collection to other select language regions of India. This will facilitate new research and bring in a comparative dimension to research based on archival material. During the First Phase of the Ford Foundation Project, attempts to build up a collection of materials in Oriya had not succeeded, mainly due o lack of cooperation from holding institutions. Fresh efforts will be made in order to overcome this difficulty and to add works in Oriya to the archive’s holdings.

Similarly, further additions are also being planned for the visual documentation collection. There are several small and private collections that were identified in course of the earlier phase of the project that contained important works of modern artists from eastern India as well as important collections of popular visual material. This will be documented in order to expand the extent of the CSSSC collection.

We further propose under the new project proposal the implementation of two kinds of short term archival internships for training archival staff and young researchers --- (i) two short-term archival internships (of three months each), to be awarded each year, to train persons already working in libraries and archives in the technical skills of archival documentation, conservation, cataloguing, digitization and preparation of online database. In the first year, we can reach out to project staff working at the School of Cultural Texts and Records at Jadavpur University, an inter-disciplinary archival project, that has in the past few years, accumulated a rare collection of private papers, manuscripts, photographs, film and film scripts and recordings of Indian classical music. In the subsequent years, we hope to induct into the programme staff from other Eastern region institutions like the Assam Sahitya Sabha and Cotton College at Guwahati, the Manipur State Archives at Imphal or the Bir Chandra State Central Library at Agartala (with whom the CSSSC has already built up contacts). (ii) one longer internship of about six months, to be awarded each year, which will be targeted towards young graduate and doctoral students in the early phase of their research. Here the intention will be to provide the intern with training in research methodologies, to encourage the intern to develop a research project out of the material in the archive, and to write a term paper under the guidance of a CSSSC faculty. This internship could be initially offered to graduate students of Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan and institutions with which the CSSSC archive is already collaborating for documentation and digitization of select works in its museum collection. The internship can subsequently be opened out for doctoral students in other Eastern regional universities who wish to work broadly in this field of print and visual media.

For the past few years, the CSSSC has worked in active collaboration with several institutions based in India and abroad. Currently it is compiling a Union Catalogue of available library holdings of all publications in the languages of Eastern India. This is an example of the expertise and resources in the regional languages built up at the CSSSC archives in the course of its first phase.

Indicators of Success:The activities of the archives at the CSSSC we believe have been largely successful as the following indicators would designate:

There will be a significant expansion of the CSSSC’s textual and visual archives enabling the inclusion of new historical and cultural materials pertaining to the study of Eastern India.

There will also be an increased faculty-student participation in the study of Eastern India with the award of two fellowships at the post-doctoral level.

The new phase of the project will further facilitate an increase in the CSSSC-public engagements through exhibition, workshops and publications.

There will also be a great boost to the aim of building partnerships with regional institutions by digitizing their holdings, providing access to digitized materials and sharing expertise.

Over different phases of the Ford Foundation project, the CSSSC textual and visual archive will emerge as a critical hub for the study of the marginalized areas of eastern and North-eastern India.

Professors Partha Chatterjee and Tapati Guha-Thakurta are the two coordinators of the project.

Endangered Archive Project:This pilot project will prepare an index of books from eastern India, available in public libraries in West Bengal and Assam but which are lacking basic preservation facilities.

The history of printing in Eastern India dates back to 1778, with the establishment of public libraries in Calcutta and neighbouring districts from the 1850s. These public institutions played a crucial role in the formation of civil society under colonial surveillance. They were not only hubs of intellectualism but also created a depository for documents emerging from within and outside the modern European disciplinary approach. Many contain unique books and monographs on subjects such as caste, religion, regional history and social practices in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Bengal.The majority of public institutional libraries in eastern India are not adequately funded, with most of them running on voluntary services and very little in the way of funding from the provincial governments. This lack of funding is leading to a crisis for the documents in their custody, from damage due to lack of maintenance to pilfering. Just the one example of Chaitanya Library shows that more than 5,000 of pre-1930 publications have disappeared since the production of the catalogue in 1936. Paper documents in the libraries are often laminated with cheap lamination papers that will lead to the total destruction of the document. Hence, the fragile nature of paper documents produced in colonial India and the lack of conservation measures make these documents endangered.

A survey will be conducted of approximately fifteen public libraries in these regions to identify unique books and periodicals published prior to 1950 – those titles that are already held elsewhere as shown by cataloguing records will be eliminated. Approximately 5,000 titles will then be prioritised for microfilming and digitisation as part of a future major digitisation project. The prioritisation will be based both on the nature of endangerment and the subject specific interest of the documents. Abhijit Bhattacharya is the Principal Investigator of the project.

Collaboration:State of archive in South Asia is very poor and on the other hand the available body of knowledge in various local archives is wide, so it is impossible for a single institute to retrieve, index and disseminate entire body of available literature. Since the beginning of the archive of the CSSSC, the institution believes in collaborative activities for the greater benefit of the scholarly needs. So the archive of the CSSSC is collaborated with several institutions in India and abroad. The CSSSC archive is collaborated with Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi; Delhi School of Economics; Centre for Studies in Culture and Society, Bangalore; The MediaLab, Jadavpur University; Digital South Asia Library; Centre for South Asia Libraries; University of Chicago; Center for Research Libraries, Chicago; Centre for Basic Research; Kampala and many others. For unrestricted open access to the digital documents from the collection of CSSSC archive, the institute has recently been collaborating with the University of Heidelberg and both institutions successfully set up a mechanism for dissemination of documents related to the social and cultural history of Bengal. From August 2009 all non-copyrighted documents of the CSSSC archive will be available from http://www.savifa.uni-hd.de/thematicportals/urban_history.html; for copyrighted materials both institutions are trying to create a secured environment for sharing copyrighted documents. More recently, the CSSSC joined in an attempt for formation of collaborative programme with Indian historians and archivists jointly with CSCS, Bangalore. However, for retrieval of available documents in Eastern India requires more attention.

Staff:The CSSSC archive being managed by a group of efficient staff trained both in technology and in South Asian history and culture: Key staff members of the CSSSC archive are: Abhijit Bhattacharya; Kamalika Mukherjee; Ranjana Dasgupta and Swaguna Dutta some senior members of faculty are closely involved with the archive. All staff members are working in consultation with the members of faculty for collection development. Professor Partha Chatterjee imagined such an alternative archive even before 1993 and he is mainly responsible for the present shape of the archive; Professor Tapati Guha-Thakurta started working on visual culture in colonial and post colonial Bengal in 1996 and present visual archive is an outcome of the project; Professor Gautam Bhadra is working on advertisement and commercial art since 2000 and contributed significantly for development of the collection.

Contact:Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

R-1, Baishnabghata-Patuli Township; Calcutta 700094 INDIA

Tel: +91(33) 2462-7252/5794/5795

Fax:+91(33)2462-6183

E-mail:

Contact person: abhijit bhattacharya +91-9830986757

URL: http://www.cssscal.org

Jadunath Sarkar Centre for Historical Research

The newly established Jadunath Sarkar Centre for Historical Research under the aegis of the Centre, which is managed by Professor Gautam Bhadra, was set-up at 'Jadunath Bhavan' under the Directorship of Professor Partha Chatterjee. It is a department-cum-library and resource centre located in 'Jadunath Bhavan'. It houses an extensive collection of vernacular medium books, especially Bengali books and an impressive archive of Bengali newspapers and journals. Other than a general collection of books, it now has private collections of books and journals donated by eminent personalities and intellectuals of city as well as from abroad. It also has a photographic archive, set up by Professor Tapati Guha Thakurta, which has photographs of the families of Shibnath Shastri and Brajendranath De, esq., ICS. It also has a photograph of temple architecture in Bengal taken by the late Professor Hitesranjan Sanyal.

Location and Buildings

'Jadunath Bhavan' was built in the British period and is an example of early twentieth century colonial architecture of Calcutta. Situated in a centrally located neighbourhood of the city, it is very close to the Calcutta Lakes. While the main research centre has now been shifted to the new building in Baishnabghata-Patuli township, land for which was bought in the early 1980s, 'Jadunath Bhavan' now houses the Jadunath Sarkar Centre for Historical Research and a guest house for visiting scholars and fellows, as well as full fellows of the CSSSC.

Eminent Faculty

Full-time

Present

Former

Visiting



Eminent former RTP students



References

External links




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