MIT Urban South Asia Workshop (2006-2008)

This is a full archive of articles and books from the twenty sessions of Urban South Asia, a workshop and reading group on cities in India and Asia which I organised with Michael M.J. Fischer in the Program in Science Technology & Society (STS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 2006 to 2008.

During this time,  we hosted anthropologists and historians who presented their in-progress research alongside selected texts and sources on urbanisation in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America. Please note that the files linked in the posts below are provided solely for purposes of study, research, and education.


URBAN SOUTH ASIA WORKSHOP

Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyProgram in Science Technology & Society (STS)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) E51-185, Cambridge, MA 02139, U.S.A.

2006

1 March: “Hyderabad from Charminar to Cantontment”
ERIC LEWIS BEVERLEY
Harvard University Department of Indo-Islamic Cultures

15 March: “The Apartment Building in Bombay”
NIKHIL RAO

Wellesley College Department of History

5 April: “The Street in South Asia”
NIKHIL RAO
Wellesley College Department of History

19 April: “Urban Social Spaces: Adeeb and Adda”
SARAH WAHEED
Tufts University Department of History

3 May: “Sex, Work & Migration in Mumbai”
SVATI SHAH

New York University (NYU) Dept of Gender & Sexuality Studies

10 May: “Real Estate Capital & Film Finance in Bombay”
ASHISH RAJADHYAKSHA

Centre for the Study of Culture & Society (CSCS), Bangalore

3 October: “Patrick Geddes & Town Planning in India”
RAMACHANDRA GUHA
MIT Seminar on Environmental and Agricultural History

31 October: “Suburbanisation in Colonial Bombay”
NIKHIL RAO

Wellesley College Department of History

14 November: “Delhi in Ruins”
ANAND VIVEK TANEJA

Columbia University Department of Anthropology

5 December: “Colonial Planning & Princely Hyderabad”
ERIC LEWIS BEVERLEY

Harvard University Department of Indo-Islamic Cultures

12 December: “Divine Enterprise in Bangalore”
TULASI SRINIVAS
Emerson College Department of Anthropology

2007

15 March: “Remembering Raj Chandavarkar”
DOUGLAS HAYNES

Dartmouth College Department of History

22 March: “Labour, Space & Politics”
Roundtable at the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) Annual Conference, Boston, Mass, 2008
SUBHO BASU, Syracuse University, New York
FRANK F. CONLON, University of Washington, Seattle
DOUGLAS HAYNES, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
SHEKHAR KRISHNAN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
NIKHIL RAO, Wellesley College, Massachusetts
LISA TRIVEDI, Hamilton College, New York

2 October: “Street Hawkers, Commodities and Urban Space”
JONATHAN SHAPIRO-ANJARIA

Bard College Department of Anthropology

2008

19 February: “The Making of an Indian Metropolis”
PRASHANT KIDAMBI,
The Making of an Indian Metropolis: Colonial Governance and Public Culture in Bombay, 1860-1920

12 March: “ Making Lahore Modern”
WILLIAM J. GLOVER,
Making Lahore Modern: Constructing and Imagining a Colonial City

2 April: “Urban Hegemony in Bombay”
SANDEEP HAZAREESINGH
,
The Colonial City and the Challenge of Modernity : Urban Hegemonies and Civic Contestations in Bombay City, 1900-1925

23 April: “Delhi’s Urban Governmentalities”
STEPHEN LEGG,
Spaces of Colonialism: Delhi’s Urban Governmentalities

14  May: “Representing Calcutta”
SWATI CHATTOPADHYAY,
Representing Calcutta: Modernity, Nationalism and the Colonial Uncanny

28 May: “Bangalore’s Twentieth Century”
JANAKI NAIR
,
The Promise of the Metropolis: Bangalore’s Twentieth Century

2 October: “Cinematographs, Celluloid & Cinema in Bombay”
ASHISH RAJADHYAKSHA
,
Indian Cinema in the Time of Celluloid: From Bollywood to Emergency

6 November: “Beyond Colonial Urbanism: Cities in South Asia”
Panel at the Urban History Association (UHA) 4th Biennial Conference, Houston, Texas, 2008
WILLIAM J. GLOVER, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
ISHITA PANDE, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario
ERIC LEWIS BEVERLEY, Stony Brook University, New York
NIKHIL RAO, Wellesley College, Massachusetts


 

From Pathan Menace to Frontier Gandhi: Afghans in Early 20th Century Bombay

Please click here to download the full audio (MP3) and click here to download the presentation (PDF) of my keynote lecture on 20 April 2017 to the international conference Mountstuart Elphinstone between Local & Global Forces: Colonial Knowledge, National Histories & Regional Realities, organised by Professors Shah Mahmoud Hanifi and Spencer Leonard from James Madison University and the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) at Jnanapravaha Mumbai from 20-22 April 2017.

From Pathan Menace to Frontier Gandhi, Keynote Lecture at Mounstuart Elphinstone between Local & Global, 20 April 2017
From Pathan Menace to Frontier Gandhi, Keynote Lecture at Mounstuart Elphinstone between Local & Global Forces, Thursday 20 April 2017

International Conference - Mounstuart Elphinstone between Local & Global: Colonial Knowledge, National Histories & Regional Realities, 20-21 April 2017

Participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the U.S.A. at Mounstuart Elphinstone between Local & Global: Colonial Knowledge, National Histories & Regional Realities, 20-21 April 2017
Participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the U.S.A. at Mounstuart Elphinstone between Local & Global: Colonial Knowledge, National Histories & Regional Realities, 20-21 April 2017

Insurrection 1946: Meanings of Failed Action

From 17-25 March 2017, I worked as curator and archivist in this public exhibition and installation at the Coomaraswamy Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum of Western India), Mumbai with artist Vivan Sundaram, archivist Dr Valentina Vitali and media artist Dr David Chapman from the University of East London and scholar and lead curator Ashish Rajadhyaksha.

Insurrection 1946 Panel

Meanings of Failed Action: Insurrection 1946 is a collaborative art project that revisits an episode of India’s struggle for self-rule: the 1946 insurrection of Royal Indian Navy (R.I.N.) sailors. On 18 February 1946, a strike was declared on H.M.I.S. Talwar, the signal training establishment of the R.I.N. at Colaba, Bombay. Within a day, a total of 10,000 naval ratings posted across the Indian Ocean took charge of sixty six ships and on-shore naval establishments. On the fourth day of the strike, Bombay’s industrial labour force joined the struggle in a show of solidarity, and the city closed down. Ranged against the strikers was the might of the British armed forces, threatening to destroy the Navy.

The Indian national leadership, then at the threshold of Independence, refused to support the uprising. The curfew that followed ended with over two hundred people killed on the streets and the surrender of the sailors on the dawn of February 23. Widely considered a ‘failure’ in its time and since then conveniently erased from Indian nationalist history, seventy years on the February 1946 uprising refuses to be assimilated into any single narrative. Based on archival material sourced in India and the U.K., Meanings of Failed Action: Insurrection 1946 revisits these five days as a memory that flashes up at a moment of danger, an episode that challenges India’s present trajectory.

Insurrection 1946 Continue reading Insurrection 1946: Meanings of Failed Action

Plotting & Scheming: Constructing Sandhurst Road in Colonial Bombay, 1898-1925

Please click here to download my presentation (PDF) to the faculty and students of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences (CSSS) Calcutta/Kolkata on 3 March 2017. My seminar talk was hosted and chaired by historians Professor Lakshmi Subramanian and Dr Prachi Deshpande. It is based on two chapters from my forthcoming book, Empire’s Metropolis: Money, Time & Space in Colonial Bombay, 1860-1920.

Sandhurst Road Scheme no.3

In the late 1890s, an epidemic of bubonic plague swept through the ports of the British Empire in Asia, dramatising the vulnerability of imperial power in its urban centres of command and control. Colonial cities like Calcutta and Bombay served as gateways to regional and global flows of people, money and machines, centralised and accelerated by networks of steam, rail and electricity. Freedom to trade and the rule of law underpinned both business and politics. Within these cities, power was shared and contested between colonial rulers, Indian elites and urban populations.

My presentation explores the social and spatial restructuring of early 20th century Bombay in the wake of the plague epidemic, through a study of the construction of Sandhurst Road, an east-west arterial avenue. Since 1955 known as Sardar Vallabbhai Patel (SVP) Marg, Sandhurst Road was named after the British Governor of Bombay Presidency who tackled the outbreak of bubonic plague in western India in 1896 by establishing the Bombay Improvement Trust (BIT) to “clean up” the city.

Continue reading Plotting & Scheming: Constructing Sandhurst Road in Colonial Bombay, 1898-1925

आलेखन व आखणी : वासाहतिक बॉम्बेमध्ये झालेलं सँडहर्स्ट रस्त्याचं बांधकाम, १८९८-१९२५

This is a Marathi translation by Avadhoot of “Plotting & Scheming: Constructing Sandhurst Road in Colonial Bombay, 1898-1925″.

सेंटर फॉर स्टडीज् इन सोशल सायन्सेन (सीएसएसएस), कोलकाता’ इथं ३ मार्च २०१७ रोजी मी दिलेल्या व्याख्यानाचा हा गोषवारा आहे. प्राध्यापक लक्ष्मी सुब्रमण्यमडॉ. प्राची देशपांडे हे इतिहासकार या कार्यक्रमाचे यजमान व अध्यक्ष होते. ‘एम्पायर’स् मेट्रॉपलिस: मनी, टाइम अँड स्पेस इन कलोनिअल बॉम्बे, १८६०-१९२०’ या माझ्या आगामी पुस्तकातील दोन प्रकरणांवर हे व्याख्यान आधारलेलं होतं.

Sandhurst Road Scheme no.3

आशियातील ब्रिटिश साम्राज्याच्या बंदरांवर १८९०च्या दशकाच्या अखेरीला गाठीच्या प्लेगाची साथ पसरली. यामुळं साम्राज्यवादी सत्तेचं प्रभुत्व व नियंत्रण असलेल्या नागरी केंद्रांमधील असुरक्षिततेला नाट्यमय वळण मिळालं. कलकत्ता व मुंबई यांसारखी वासाहतिक शहरं प्रादेशिक व जागतिक पातळीवर लोक, पैसा व यंत्रं यांच्या दळणवळणाची प्रवेशद्वारं होती. वाफेची इंजिनं, रेल्वे आणि वीज यांच्या जाळ्यातून या शहरांचं केंद्रीकरण झालं होतं व त्यांना चालनाही मिळत होती. व्यवसाय आणि राजकारण या दोन्हींचा अंतःप्रवाह व्यापाराचं स्वातंत्र्य व कायद्याचं राज्य असा होता. या शहरांमध्ये वासाहतिक सत्ताधारी, भारतीय उच्चभ्रू आणि नागरी जनता यांच्यात सत्तेचं वाटप झालेलं होतं आणि सत्तासंघर्षही त्यांच्यातच होत असे.

प्लेगच्या साथीमुळं विसाव्या शतकातील मुंबईमध्ये सामाजिकदृष्ट्या व स्थलावकाशदृष्ट्या कोणते बदल झाले याचा शोध घेण्याचा प्रयत्न माझ्या सादरीकरणात केलेला आहे. पूर्व व पश्चिम भागांना जोडणाऱ्या सँडहर्स्ट रस्त्याच्या बांधणीसंदर्भात हा अभ्यास केलेला आहे. १९५५ सालापासून ‘सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल (एसव्हीपी) मार्ग’ या नावानं ओळखल्या जाणाऱ्या या रस्त्याचं आधीचं नाव मुंबई प्रांताचा ब्रिटिश गव्हर्नर सँडहर्स्ट याच्यावरून ठेवलेलं होतं. १८९६ साली पश्चिम भारतातील गाठीच्या प्लेगची साथ निवारण्यासाठी ‘बॉम्बे इम्प्रूव्हमेन्ट ट्रस्ट’ (बीआयटी) या संस्थेची स्थापना याच सँडहर्स्ट यांनी केली.

Continue reading आलेखन व आखणी : वासाहतिक बॉम्बेमध्ये झालेलं सँडहर्स्ट रस्त्याचं बांधकाम, १८९८-१९२५

Smart Cities & Nations Symposium

I organised this workshop and symposium at the Asia Research Institute (ARI) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) on 9 February 2017. This was part of a research collaboration between ARI and Tembusu College at NUS and the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (CSI), Mines ParisTech in Paris, France. Special thanks to Sharon Ong and Dr Margaret Tan Ai Hua for co-organising this event and collaboration.

VENUE
National University of Singapore (NUS)
AS-8, Room #06-46, 6 th Floor (Level 6 Conference Room)
10, Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260

PART I

14.00-14.10
Introduction and Welcome
Prof Gregory Clancey, National University of Singapore (NUS)

14.10-14.40
“Business Models as Capitalization Devices”
Liliana Doganova, Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (CSI), Mines ParisTech

14.40-15.10
“Real-Time Democracy: Imagining the City of Permanent Innovation”
Brice Laurent, Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (CSI), Mines ParisTech

15.10-15.40
“From Intelligent Nation to Smart Nation: Searching for Critical Engagement Among Artists in Singapore”
Margaret Tan Ai Hua, National University of Singapore (NUS)

DISCUSSION
Prof Michael Douglass, National University of Singapore (NUS) &
Prof Michael M.J. Fischer, Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

PART II

16.10-16.40
“Co-Generation of Urban Data: Mapping Cycling Infrastructures in Paris”
Jérôme Denis & David Pontille, Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (CSI), Mines ParisTech

16.40-17.10
“Blue Skies & White Clouds: Future Readiness in the Anthropocene”
Eric Kerr, National University of Singapore (NUS)
Malini Sur, University of Western Sydney, Australia

17.10-17.40
“Devices for Evidence-Based Activism”
Madeleine Akrich, Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (CSI), Mines ParisTech

17.40-18.10
“Ageing in the Smart Nation”
Tatjana Todorovic, LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore
Arul Chib, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore

DISCUSSION
Hallam Stevens, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) &
Rita Padwangi, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Plotting & Scheming: Land Acquisition & Market Values in Colonial Bombay City, 1898-1910

On 18 January 2017, I gave this seminar talk and presentation to the Cities Cluster of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (FASS) Research Division, National University of Singapore (NUS). The talk was co-sponsored by the Asian Urbanisms Cluster of the NUS Asia Research Institute (ARI) and chaired by Professor Tim Bunnell. This seminar talk is based on  a chapter from my forthcoming book, Empire’s Metropolis: Money, Time & Space in Colonial Bombay, 1860-1920.

poster_18.1.2017

In the late 1890s, an epidemic of bubonic plague swept through the ports of the British Empire in Asia, dramatising the vulnerability of imperial power in its urban centres of command and control. Colonial cities like Singapore and Bombay served as gateways to regional and global flows of people, money and machines, centralised and accelerated by networks of steam, rail and electricity. Freedom to trade and the rule of law underpinned both business and politics. Within these urban centres, power was shared and contested between colonial rulers, Indian elites and urban populations.

My presentation explores the social and spatial restucturing of early 20th century Bombay in the wake of the plague epidemic. In 1898, the British colonial state established the Bombay Improvement Trust (BIT) to “clean up” the city, equipped with draconian powers of compulsory acquisition and land clearance to demolish slums, erect new buildings and build broad boulevards. Within a decade, the BIT emerged as the single largest land-owner in colonial Bombay by seizing and plotting vast tracts into new planning “schemes” – though not without costly legal and technical challenges to its eminent domain from landlords and tenants, temples and mosques, and owners of shops, theatres and quarries.

Arbitrated through Victorian ideas of “market value” and techniques of measurement and valuation in colonial courts, urban environments once valued through overlapping chains of title and use were now awarded hypothetical cash values, driving speculation and generalising a new logic and political economy in colonial Bombay. I will examine this transformation in the urban land market through tribunals and court cases fought against the BIT by Indian claimants, appeals against acquisition and for higher compensation which often dragged on for years. These lengthy arguments and novel interpretations of Anglo-Indian land and property law continue to shape urbanisation in the cities of post-colonial South Asia.

Bombay Time: Power, Public Culture & Identity, 1870-1955

Towards New Histories of Mumbai, 6-7 January 2017, Department of History, University of Mumbai
Towards New Histories of Mumbai, 6-7 January 2017, Department of History, University of Mumbai

Please click here to download my presentation (PDF) on “Bombay Time: Turning Back the Clock, 1870-1955″. As a tribute to our friend and mentor Professor Jim Masselos, the Department of History at the University of Mumbai, the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London and the University of Leicester hosted a conclave of historians, scholars and researchers of the city at the Vidyanagari Campus of Mumbai University on Friday 6 to Saturday 7 January 2017. Special thanks to Profs Manjiri Kamat, Prashant Kidambi and Rachel Dwyer for organising this conference.

The completion of global networks of railways, telegraphs and steamships across British India and globally in the 1870­-1880s made possible the coordination of time signals across these lines of communication and transport, as observatories electrically transmitted the precise longitudinal time simultaneously from cities such as Madras and Bombay to their expanding territorial and maritime frontiers. However, the proposal to standardise time-keeping in cities confronted a multitude of visible and audible temporal signs in the urban environment – public clocks, factory sirens, office shifts, railway timetables, sunlight and sunset – as well as across the vast subcontinent, where local solar times varied by more than an hour between Calcutta in the east and Karachi in the west.

Despite repeated attempts to secure uniformity by colonial scientists and the state, a patchwork of temporal standards in colonial India resulted from rivalries between scientists, port, railway and municipal authorities, and persistent defiance of these standards by religious and civic leaders, traders, and the urban public. “Railway Time” or “Mean Time” on the longitude of the Madras Observatory – fixed on the completion of the trans-continental railway link with Bombay in the 1870s – encountered stiff public resistance in Bombay, for whom the new standard was more than 30 minutes ahead of local solar time, or “Bombay Time”, and was hastily withdrawn.

The introduction of “Indian Standard Time” (IST) amidst Lokmanya Tilak’s arrest and trial and the “Swadeshi” agitations in 1905-06 prompted further protest, from the stoning of public clock-towers to strikes by office employees and factory workers, as the state attempted to “turn back the clock” by more than half an hour. Thereafter, “Bombay Time” was observed in the city as an insignia of native difference and everyday resistance, as the “annihilation of space by time” was reversed in the spatial arenas of urban temporality. For Indian workers and office employees, “Bombay Time” could turn up later at work; native bankers and brokers could remain open for trading later than European commercial banks; and local philanthropists and municipal leaders sponsored public clocks at variance with official IST.

My paper revisits Jim Masselos’s essay “Bombay Time” (Meera Kosambi, ed., Intersections: Socio-Cultural Trends in Maharashtra, Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 2000, pp.161–83), seeking to complement and deepen Masselos’s pioneering research into the standardisation of clock time in the colonial city. My paper will explore how “Bombay Time” dramatised the social construction and moral economy of time, extending Masselos’s original insights on the transformation of urban life in the context of technological change with new material from the municipal and state archives, and up to the demise of “Bombay Time” during World War II and after Independence.

बॉम्बे टाइम: सत्ता, लोकसंस्कृती व अस्मिता, १८७०-१९५५

Towards New Histories of Mumbai, 6-7 January 2017, Department of History, University of Mumbai
Towards New Histories of Mumbai, 6-7 January 2017, Department of History, University of Mumbai

This is a Marathi translation of my talk and presentation “Bombay Time: Power, Public Culture & Identity, 1870-1955″

बॉम्बे टाइम: टर्निंग बॅक द क्लॉक, १८७०-१९५५’ हे माझं सादरीकरण डाउनलोड करण्यासाठी इथं क्लिक करा. आमचे मित्र व मार्गदर्शक प्राध्यापक जिम मॅसेलोस यांच्या सन्मानार्थ मुंबई विद्यापीठाचा इतिहास विभाग, लंडन विद्यापीठातील ‘स्कूल ऑफ ओरिएन्टल अँड आफ्रिकन स्टडीज्’ (एसओएएस) आणि लाइकेस्टर विद्यापीठ यांनी इतिहासकार, अभ्यासक व संशोधकांची एक परिषद शुक्रवार ६ ते शनिवार ७ जानेवारी २०१७ या दिवसांमध्ये मुंबई विद्यापीठाच्या विद्यानगरी आवारामध्ये आयोजित केली होती. प्राध्यापक मंजिरी कामत, प्रशांत किदम्बीरेचल ड्वायर यांनी ही परिषद आयोजित केल्याबद्दल त्यांचे विशेष आभार.

रेल्वे, तारायंत्रं व वाफेवर चालणारी जहाजं यांचं जागतिक जाळं ब्रिटीशशासित भारतात आणि जागतिक पातळीवर १८७०-१८८०च्या दशकांमध्ये पूर्ण झालं. या सर्व संदेशन व वाहतूक मार्गांदरम्यानच्या वेळेसंबंधित इशाऱ्यांचं संयोजन करणंही शक्य झालं, कारण अचूक रेखांशीय वेळ मद्रास व मुंबई अशा शहरांमधून एकाच वेळी त्यांच्या विस्तारीत भौगोलिक व समुद्री सीमांपर्यंत विद्युतमार्गे पाठवण्याचं काम निरीक्षणशाळा करत होत्या. पण शहरातील वेळमापन प्रमाणित करण्याच्या प्रयत्नांना नागरी पर्यावरणातील अनेक दृश्य व श्राव्य कालबाधित चिन्हांना सामोरं जावं लागलं: सार्वजनिक घड्याळं, कारखान्यांचे भोंगे, कार्यालयीन पाळ्या, रेल्वेची वेळापत्रकं, सूर्योदय व सूर्यास्त हे घटक होतेच; शिवाय या महाकाय उपखंडात पूर्वेकडे कलकत्त्यापासून ते पश्चिमेतील कराचीपर्यंत स्थानिक सौरवेळा तासाभरापेक्षाही अधिक अंतरानं बदलत्या होत्या.

वासाहतिक वैज्ञानिक व राज्यसंस्थेनं वेळेच्या बाबतीत एकवाक्यता आणण्यासाठी वारंवार प्रयत्न केले. पण वासाहतिक भारतातील प्रमाणित वेळेसंबंधीच्या अशा ठिगळकामातून वैज्ञानिक, बंदर, रेल्वे व महापालिका प्रशासन यांच्यात परस्पर स्पर्धेचा भाव निर्माण झाला. धार्मिक व नागरी नेते, व्यापारी व नागरी जनता यांनी या प्रमाणकांना सातत्यानं धुडकावून लावलं. मद्रास निरीक्षणशाळेच्या रेखांशानुसार निश्चित केलेल्या ‘प्रमाण वेळे’ला मुंबईतील लोकांनी कठोर विरोध केला. आंतरखंडीय रेल्वे-मार्ग पूर्ण झाल्यावर १८७०च्या दशकात मुंबईसोबत निश्चित करण्यात आलेली ही वेळ ‘रेल्वे टाइम’ म्हणूनही ओळखली जात होती. पण मुंबईतील स्थानिक सौरवेळेपेक्षा किंवा ‘बॉम्बे टाइम’पेक्षा मद्रास निरीक्षणशाळेची ही नवीन प्रमाणित वेळ तीस मिनिटांनी पुढं होती. त्यामुळं विरोध झाल्यावर घाईगडबडीनं ही वेळ मागे घेण्यात आली.

त्यानंतर, १९०५-०६मध्ये सुरू असलेलं स्वदेशी आंदोलन, लोकमान्य टिळकांना झालेली अटक व त्यांच्यावरील खटला या घडामोडींच्या काळात ‘भारतीय प्रमाण वेळ’ अंमलात आली, त्यातून जनक्षोभात वाढच झाली. सरकारनं घड्याळ अर्धा तासाहून अधिक अवधीसाठी मागं फिरवायचा प्रयत्न केल्यावर, सार्वजनिक घड्याळांच्या मनोऱ्यांवर दगडफेक करण्यापासून ते कार्यालयीन कर्मचारी व कारखान्यातील कामगारांनी संप करण्यापर्यंत विविध मार्ग निषेधासाठी अवलंबण्यात आले. त्यानंतर मुंबईमध्ये देशी वेगळेपणा दर्शवण्यासाठी मानचिन्हासारखा ‘बॉम्बे टाइम’चा वापर सुरू झाला. ‘वेळेनं केलेलं अवकाशाचं उच्चाटन’ नाकारण्यासाठी नागरी कालबद्धतेच्या स्थलावकाशातला एक रोजचा प्रतिकार म्हणून हा व्यवहार सुरू होता. भारतीय कामगार व कार्यालयीन कर्मचाऱ्यांसाठी काम सुरू झाल्यावर थोड्या अवधीनं ‘बॉम्बे टाइम’ सुरू होत असे; देशी बँकर व ब्रोकरांना युरोपीय व्यावसायिक बँकांपेक्षा जास्तीचा काही वेळ काम सुरू ठेवता येत असे; आणि अधिकृत भारतीय प्रमाण वेळेपेक्षा भिन्न वेळ दाखवणाऱ्या सार्वजनिक घड्याळ्यांना स्थानिक समाजसेवक व नेते पाठबळ देत असत.

जिम मॅसेलोस यांच्या “बॉम्बे टाइम” (मीरा कोसम्बी संपादित ‘इंटरसेक्शन्स: सोशिओ-कल्चरल ट्रेन्ड्स इन महाराष्ट्र’, हैदराबाद: ओरिएन्ट लॉन्गमन, २०००, पानं १६१-८३) या निबंधाचं पुनर्वाचन मी माझ्या पेपरमध्ये केलं आहे. वासाहतिक मुंबईतील घड्याळी वेळेच्या प्रमाणीकरणासंबंधी मॅसेलोस यांनी केलेलं काम आद्य स्वरूपाचं आहे. मॅसेलोस यांच्या मांडणीला पूरक सखोलता मिळेल अशी मांडणी करायचा प्रयत्न मी प्रस्तुत पेपरद्वारे केला आहे. ‘बॉम्बे टाइम’मुळं शहरातील सामाजिक रचना आणि वेळेची नीती-अर्थव्यवस्था कशा रितीनं बदलली हे शोधायचा प्रयत्न मी केला आहे. तांत्रिक बदलाच्या संदर्भात नागरी जीवनामध्ये घडून येणाऱ्या परिवर्तनासंबंधी मॅसेलोस यांनी दिलेल्या मर्मदृष्टीचा विस्तार करताना मी महानगरपालिकेच्या व सरकारच्या दस्तावेजांमधील नवीन सामग्रीचा विचार केला आहे. दुसऱ्या महायुद्धाच्या काळात व स्वातंत्र्यानंतर ‘बॉम्बे टाइम’चा अंत कसा झाला, त्याचीही मांडणी केली आहे.

The Master of the Game: The Woman Who Wouldn’t Let Donald Trump Mumbai

Click here to download this presentation (PDF) which I gave in the South Asian Studies Programme (SASP) seminar series at the National University of Singapore (NUS). You can also download and listen to the podcast (MP3) on the NUS Asia Research Institute (ARI) website.

My seminar talk was held on Wednesday 9 November 2016 in Singapore, just as the final results were announced on U.S. Election Day, and Donald J. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to win the U.S. Presidential election. This seminar was chaired by Prof Annu Jalais.

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This presentation was based on and develops an earlier talk on Donald Trump in Mumbai given at the workshop “Constructing Asia: Materiality, Capital & Labour in the Making of an Urbanising Landscape” organised at ARI on 12–13 May 2016 by Dr Malini Sur and Dr Eli Asher Elinoff, where I presented a talk on “Constructing Trump Tower Mumbai”.

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Mumbai’s real estate is amongst the most expensive per square foot anywhere in the world. Property developers and construction magnates dominate the city’s political economy and public culture, and are portrayed as sovereigns of its skyline, an imagined community whom city newspapers commonly refer to as “the builder-politician nexus”.

Builders’ unique appetites for risk make visible and channel the desires of millions for new and better futures (or to make things “great again”). Both real estate and politics are shadowy domains which demonstrate how money, time and space are sources of social power in the contemporary city. The games of language and number played with them favour those who can challenge norms, wait out long battles, and anticipate changes in the rules.

Rather than seeing those who play them as gamblers, populists or moral failures, we need to understand their business strategies as the materialisation of uncertainty. On the occasion of the U.S. Election Day, my talk will focus on the business of building a luxury high-rise Trump Tower in Mumbai and Donald Trump’s Indian apprentices and opponents, first on the disputed site of a charitable hospital and community housing trust, and later in an old textile mill compound.

This presentation is part of an ongoing ethnographic and archival project on the real estate speculation and property redevelopment in post-industrial Mumbai.