Transitioning infrastructures and socio-cultural practices at the Idol-making cluster of Kolkata's Kumartuli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The annual mega festival of Durga puja in Kolkata, India was nominated for UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage for listing in 2020. The religious deities worshipped during festivals in Kolkata are sculpted as idols in the idol-making industry, which has been historically situated in the inner-city slum neighbourhood of Kumartuli. This industry operates locally and transnationally, drawing increasing seasonal employment from the rural hinterland, as well as international clientele through the place-based brand. The evolving social and cultural practices that have configured the working and living spaces of the idol-makers’ community in Kumartuli are the focus of this chapter. A combination of social practice theory and postcolonial theories are adopted as a conceptual framing, and a mix of architectural and human geography research methods are employed. The built character of the neighbourhood is in transition due to market forces and certain governmental policies’ shifts. Along with highlighting the issues that triggered this change, this chapter discusses the effects of this transition and the social, economic, and ecological challenges that the residents of this neighbourhood are facing in order to accommodate growing production numbers. Also, this paper questions whether the public policies and the recent UNESCO nomination would influence the marginalised idol-making community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban Infrastructuring
Subtitle of host publicationreconfigurations, transformations and sustainability in the Global South
EditorsDeljana Iossifova, Alexandros Gasparatos, Stylianos Zavos, Yahya Gamal, Yin Long
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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