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The Nehru Memorial Museum & Library


‘Sounds at Work: Work music and contemporary urban soundscapes’, 17th February, 2015.


‘Sounds at Work: Work music and contemporary urban soundscapes’


Ms. Shubhasree Bhattacharyya,
University of Delhi,


This paper deals with the interstices of work music performances, urbanity, labour, and soundscapes in the city of Kolkata. It begins with an engagement with the categorisation of the performative genre of “work song” from a comparative perspective. The paper moves on to examine various registers of aural governmentality sieved through multiple forms of work song practices and the politics of their reception in the contemporary urban space of Kolkata. The focus on the aural medium here is closely connected with the material and sensorial registers of the performances. In this analytic, the workers/performers appear in the corporeal registers of action that unite work and sounds in a coarticulatory-relational and not in a causal-functional linkage.


Ms. Shubhasree teaches Comparative Indian Literature in the Department of Modern Indian Languages and Literary Studies, University of Delhi. Her doctoral thesis is on work music performances, urbanity, labour, and sounds. As an Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre grantee she worked on the documentary film project Dhenkir Gaan (Songs of Pedal Husking). She also co-directed the documentary film The Aura of Development. Shubhasree is a founding member of two urban soundscape projects based in Kolkata. Her current research areas and interests include Sound Studies, Labour and Urban Studies, Performance, Translation, and Comparative Literature.

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