In An Alien City: American Soldiers in Wartime Calcutta (1942-1946)


  • Suchintan Das St. Stephen's College, Delhi



Calcutta had emerged as one of the most important fulcrums for coordinating the movement of men, material, and money during the Second World War. The advent of US troops in the city from 1942 onwards led to an unprecedented cultural encounter. This paper argues that the actual lived experiences of the American soldiers in Calcutta provided a stark contrast to their prescribed norms of conduct. This paper further contends that with their arrival, civilian-military relations were substantially reconfigured and the image of the British Empire was considerably damaged. An attempt has been made to set in relief the divergent experiences of the White American and African American troops besides mapping their experiences of and responses to the Bengal Famine. Lastly, this paper seeks to interrogate the globalising nature of the Second World War by looking at Calcutta as a site of spontaneous and uneven cultural exchange where the US soldiers functioned as national emissaries and wartime cultural conduits.

Author Biography

Suchintan Das, St. Stephen's College, Delhi

Studies BA History (Hons.) at St. Stephen's College, Delhi. Has been published by the Journal of the Asiatic Society, Kolkata. Rhodes Scholar-Elect at the University of Oxford from India for 2021.