Journal article Open Access

The Archive as a Transcultural Contact Zone in Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome

Basu, Rahul

The archive as a metaphor emerges as a contentious zone in Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome. Not only does the plot of the novel revolve around several archival researches, but the negotiation of the archive becomes a post-colonial strategy of coming to terms with the history of colonial medical science. The novel intervenes and challenges the hegemonizing attempt of the pedagogical grand narratives of history, science and other forms of ‘objective’ disciplines to reveal the performative micronarratives – the ‘different’ stories, ‘different’ experiences, and ‘different’ histories. The archive becomes a potent metaphor of transculturalism itself in that it turns out to be a fluid and volatile space which not only stores textual traces but also creates the texts. Renegotiation of the archive by subaltern agencies, therefore, sets the archive perpetually in motion and reveals it as open to further change and reinscription. The Calcutta Chromosome delineates a post-colonial archival research which leads the researcher to the discovery of a counter-archive of indigenous, esoteric knowledge, posited as an epistemic ‘other’ to the colonial archive of scientific discourse.

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