ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Literary Representations of Urban Spaces and Diverse Ethnic Communities of Kochi


Antony Anjali - Christ University, Bangalore, English and Cultural Studies, Bnagalore, India


08 – Imagining the city: Literary and religious practices of urbanity in early modern and modern South Asia


 The coastal town of Kochi in Southern India is a repository of hybrid cultures and customs that were brought in by ancient traders, colonial rulers, and immigrant communities. The Arabs, the Chinese, and the Jews docked their ships at the estuary of Kochi in exchange for the exotic spices of the East, three colonial rulers- the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British reigned and controlled the town beginning from 1500, and the simultaneously existing diverse ethnic communities came here centuries ago for reasons such as escaping from exile, oppression or for the purpose of trade. The history of foreign trade, colonialism, and the presence of these communities within the limited geographic space of the town has immensely contributed to the cosmopolitanism of Kochi that the place is now described as a microcosm of the world. History and culture are embedded in the terrain of Kochi which makes it a fertile ground that stimulates the rise of multiple literary discourses. This paper looks at the literary representations of the urban spaces and diverse ethnic communities of Kochi through select works of literature that include N.S. Madhavan’s novel The Litanies of the Dutch Battery and E.P Unny’s Santa And The Scribes: The Making Of Fort Kochi. The literary geography of Kochi explored through these texts brings in a whole new perspective when it comes to understanding the colonial history, images, myths, and narratives that emanate out of this space.