Social Media and the Kolkata Shi'as: Lecture by Epsita Halder

Epsita Halder delivered a lecture on ‘Right to the City: Social Media and the Kolkata Shi'as’. It was chaired by Hilal Ahmed.


This talk intended to explore Ithna Ashari Shi’as in Kolkata response to the globalising sweep of the internet and social media in refurbishing their multiple religious ‘place-making practices’ (Desplat & Schulz 2012) and reshaping as ‘urban religion’ (Rüpke & Urciuoli 2023).  In this process, as the lines of visibility/invisibility inherent in their ritual complex are redrawn, it blurs the dichotomies of traditional city, namely, the public-private and the urban-rural/city-village divide. New deliberations and aesthetic-technical innovations that the Ithna Ashari Shi'as deploy to express their ‘right to the city’, and a sense of belonging as a doubly-minoritised religious Muslim community in India are played out in forms of negotiation with the Hindu majority mainstream and intra-Islamic contestations specific to the urban ethos of Kolkata.

Epsita Halder is Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She was visiting fellow at the University of Erfurt, Germany, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is the author of Reclaiming Karbala: Nation, Islam and Literature of the Bengali Muslims (Routledge, 2023).

Hilal Ahmed is Associate Professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

Monday, 4 September 2023, 4.30 pm, Seminar Room and Zoom