Taniya Neogi (Vidyasagar University)


Designation- Assistant Professor, Department of English, Mugberia Gangadhar Mahavidyalaya, Vidyasagar University, West Bengal, India

BA in English Literature, Lady Brabourne College, Calcutta University (2008-11)

MA in English Literature, Jadavpur University (2011-13)

M.Phil in English Literature, University of Calcutta (2014-16)

PhD in English Literature, University of Kalyani (2018-Pursuing)

Research Areas: Postcolonial studies, Gender and Masculinity studies


“Flâneur from the Fringes: Reading Modernity, Mobility and Identity in With Cyclists Around the World”

This paper aims to examine the travel account With Cyclists Around the World, written by three Parsi men- Adi B. Hakim, Lal P. Bapasola and Rustom B. Bhumgara who embarked on an unprecedented and astonishing bicycle trip around the world in 1923, covering 44000 miles in four and a half years. The travel account documents the presence of Indian subjects, who position themselves as atypical flâneurs in the imperial cities of Europe and the colonial cities of Persia, China, Japan, French, Indo-China, during the inter-war years, as they witness the Empire in its twilight period. The study will aim to shed light on how the travelogue negotiates with and dismantles the rigid hierarchy of centre and periphery, city and country, embedded in the modernist urban project that spatially structured these prototypical metropolitan cities along racial, class and gender axes. As an extension of the above argument, the paper will aim to examine the colonial modernity of the travellers – flâneurs who are simultaneously located as the spectator and the spectacle within the Empire’s capital. The paper aims to study the unique identity of the travellers, as members of the loyal anglophilic Parsi community, their cosmopolitan consciousness that is both partial and resistant to Enlightenment discourses they were tutored in as they explore and critically dissect the European metropolitan picturesque.

Mobility, being one of the most distinctive markers and conditions of modernity, the medium of mobility, the bicycle, in this context, will be examined as the colonial cultural icon of “technological modernity”, a conduit that navigates boundaries of geography and identity. While the modernity project is inextricably interlinked with capitalism and western imperialism, it also set in motion paradoxically, the processes of nationalism, globalization, heterogeneity and transculturation, that ended up eroding the imperial regime in the long run and producing alternative and multiple narratives of modernity in its wake. The paper will examine the text in this light, underlining how local and peripheral forces shape and interpret histories and how travel literature from the colonies offer counter-narratives to canonical modernist representations.