Documenting The History of Chennai’s Fishing Villages

Urur Olcott Kuppam is a fishing village that existed even before the Theosophical Society came into existence. However, like in other fishing villages in Chennai’s coast, in Urur Kuppam too, the city is encroaching into their spaces. In the absence of a historical narrative that establishes the presence of fishing villages for centuries, it becomes easy for the state and for uniformed people to conclude that the villages are slums, that fisherfolk are encroachers, and that the valuable beachside real estate has to be liberated from the clutches of such people.
Urur Kuppam’s anonymity¬† makes it seem as though the history of this part of Chennai began with the settlements in Besant Nagar, and that this fishing village is nothing but a recent encroachment. Such perceptions vitiate the atmosphere and lead to the marginalisation of certain communities. It is a fact that the birth and growth of Besant Nagar has brought with it a massive change in land-use and lifestyles in this area.

The Coastal Resource Centre of The Other Media plans to document the history of Urur Olcott Kuppam fishing village as a means of setting the record straight and as a tool to assert their right to living and livelihood space in Chennai’s coast.

Information will be collected through semi-structured interviews, documentation of oral histories, collection of old photos and maps, and archival research by visiting the Egmore Archives and other libraries like Roja Muthiah and Theosophical Society.

If you would like to volunteer, please get in touch with Pooja Kumar at 9791122180 or email us at thecoastalresourcecentre@gmail.com

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