Second Place

Lost Legacy

Santanu Dey


Beginning of the seventeenth-century the British East India Company arrived in India later they begin to rule India. So there was a shift of administrative and political policy to govern the country under the company rule. It was then the emergence of the Zamindari system eliminating the erstwhile Jaigirdari system in Bengal. Those who were loyal and submitted enormous wealth to the Company were awarded the Zamindari system. Many lost in the process while there was a proliferation of nouveau rich Zamindars. It was the system in the history of Bengal of the emergence of Zamindars or Wealthy Landlords. The British East India Company needed representatives to rule India. The Zamindars class helped the British merchant later on the colonial rule, to facilitate with service for power and wealth there was a substantial rise of the Zamindars as the British power increased. So their coalition with the British monarchy exploited society to increase their wealth. Later in the ninetieth century, many Zamindars had changed their association with the British when the nationalist fervor plagued in Bengal. Overnight the status of these aristocrat families changed on 15th August 1947, the day of India's independence. The privileged class of society completely reduced to an ordinary citizen of India. Like fellow countrymen, they tooled a normal life and took various employment services for survival. My project is about the social and political condition of the descendants of the Zamindars in the decolonization period in independent India. These families are an important part of the history of Calcutta and Bengal. I’m archiving the history of the Zamindars, their culture, aristocracy, tradition in the decolonization period through their present descendants.

Santanu Dey is a visual artist cum independent photographer based in Kolkata, India. He educated as a painter in the Academy of Fine Arts in Kolkata. Later he did a post-graduate diploma in photography from “Counter Foto – A center for visual art” at Dhaka in Bangladesh. Santanu’s work often moves along the intersection of art, documentary and attempt to dive deep into mythology, cultural narratives and socio-political issues. He always tries to tell stories of his personal experiences on contemporary social issues from his own perspective. He has been researching since 2017 on India’s partition and post-partition condition and social structure through a collaborative and research-based practice rooted in documentary photography and cultural anthropology. Santanu received a social documentary grant by Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication (SACAC), Delhi, 2019. He is winner of Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest (2019), Winner in Polyphony Photo Festival, Kolkata, 2018. His works have been exhibited in several photography festivals like the Indian Photography Festival (2019), Jakarta International Photo Festival (2019), Polyphony photo Festival Kolkata, 2018 & 2020 and his work have been selected in Lumix festival for young visual journalism, 2020. He also had group shows in Kolkata, Dhaka and Scotland. Santanu’s works have been published in such online publications as Lifeforce magazine, Dodho magazine, 121 clicks, Better Photography Magazine.

[ CULTURAL PRACTICES ] A set of photographs that increases the understanding and appreciation of a cultural practice. It can be about festivals, religion, traditions, or contemporary cultural trends. Each submission consists of 5 to 20 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 2 submissions. The images must be taken in 2019 or 2020.

Judges for Cultural Practices
Anshika Varma
Jiro Ose
Suejin Shin
Khalil Hamra
Rena Effendi