Category Archives: resources

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.


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


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

15 March: “The Apartment Building in Bombay”

Wellesley College Department of History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31 October: “Suburbanisation in Colonial Bombay”

Wellesley College Department of History

14 November: “Delhi in Ruins”

Columbia University Department of Anthropology

5 December: “Colonial Planning & Princely Hyderabad”

Harvard University Department of Indo-Islamic Cultures

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


15 March: “Remembering Raj Chandavarkar”

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”

Bard College Department of Anthropology


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

12 March: “ Making Lahore Modern”
Making Lahore Modern: Constructing and Imagining a Colonial City

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

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

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

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

2 October: “Cinematographs, Celluloid & Cinema in Bombay”
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


Handbook of the Bombay Archives

I am proud to share online this freely downloadable PDF of The Handbook of the Bombay Archives (B.G. Kunte, ed., compiled by Sanjiv Desai and R.S. Pednekar, Mumbai: Government of Maharashtra Department of Archives, 1978).

Elphinstone College, Mumbai (location of Maharashtra State Archives)

Long out of print and unavailable, this is an essential guide to the Maharashtra State Archives, one of India’s richest and best managed repositories of historical documents, located at Elphinstone College in Kala Ghoda. Enjoy and share widely!


Who Sank my Mothership?

Experts, journalists, and film-makers are seeing motherships everywhere.

In an interview today on Here and Now with Bob Baer, former CIA analyst for the Middle East, he just let drop the terrifying scenario of a jihadi mothership docking in Baltimore Harbor and launching commando attacks from a swarm of dinghies, in imitation of the attacks in Mumbai two weeks ago. Not surprisingly, the film Syriana was adapted from Baer’s intelligence memoirs.

In the weeks before the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, a Saudi oil tanker was hijacked off the Horn of Africa. In a direct action against Somali pirates menacing the high seas, on 19 November the Indian Navy sunk what was called a “pirate mothership” in the Gulf of Aden, in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa. This seemed to many Indians a swift and effective strike in the subcontinent’s own maritime near-abroad, the western Indian Ocean. Continue reading Who Sank my Mothership?

Patrick Geddes & Town Planning in India

Professor Patrick Geddes, from the Silver Jubilee Souvenir of the Bombay University School of Economics & Sociology, 1947
Professor Patrick Geddes, from the Silver Jubilee Souvenir of the Bombay University School of Economics & Sociology, 1947


Patrick Geddes, Selections from “Cities in Evolution” from Marshall Stalley, ed., Patrick Geddes: Spokesman for Man and the Environment, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1972.

Hellen Meller, “Urbanisation and the Introduction of Modern Town Planning Ideas in India, 1900-1925″ in K.N. Chaudhuri and Clive J. Dewey, eds., Economy & Society: Essays in Indian Social & Economic History, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1979.

Indra Munshi, “Patrick Geddes: Sociologist, Environmentalist, Town Planner” in Economic & Political Weekly, Vol.35, No.6, 5 February 2000.

Ramachandra Guha, “Patrick Geddes and Ecological Town Planning in India”, paper given at the MIT Seminar on Environmental & Agricultural History, March 2006


Geddes, Reports on Re-Planning of Six Towns in Bombay Presidency, 1915. Bombay: Government of Maharashtra Urban Development and Public Health Dept, 1965.

Geddes, Town Planning in Lucknow: A Report to the Municipal Council. Lucknow: Murray’s London Printing Press, 1916.

Geddes, Report on Town Planning, Dacca. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Depot, 1917.

Geddes (with H.V. Lanchester), Town Planning in Jubbulpore: A Report to the Municipal Committee. Jubbulpore: Hitkarini Press, 1917.

Geddes, Town Planning towards City Development: A Report to the Durbar of Indore. Indore: Holkar State Printing Press, 1918.

The Urban Turn

This is a transcript of symposium on urban history held in December 2002 with historians and sociologists Gyan Prakash, Jairus Banaji, Sujata Patel and Rajnarayan Chandavarkar. You can also download the PDF of the transcript.

This symposium was organised by PUKAR (Partners for Urban Knowledge Action & Research) at the Bombay Paperie, Mumbai. Thanks to Shonali Sarda for transcription and Neeta Premchand for hosting the event.

GYAN PRAKASH is Professor of History at Princeton University, U.S.A. and a member of the Subaltern Studies Editorial Collective. He is the author of Bonded Histories: Genealogies of Labour Servitude in Colonial India (Cambridge, 1990), Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India (Princeton, 1999), and has written several articles and edited several volumes on colonial history and historiography.

JAIRUS BANAJI is a historian and independent scholar based in Mumbai. He worked with unions in Bombay through the eighties, when he published, with Rohini Hensman, Beyond Multinationalism: Management Policy and Bargaining Relationships in International Companies (Delhi: Sage, 1990). His most recent book is Agrarian Change in Late Antiquity: Gold, Labour, and Aristocratic Dominance (Oxford, 2002).

SUJATA PATEL is Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology at University of Pune. She is the co-editor, with Alice Thorner, of Bombay: Metaphor for Modern Culture and Bombay: Mosaic of Modern India (both Delhi: Oxford India, 1995), and, with Jim Masselos, of Bombay and Mumbai: The City in Transition (Delhi: Oxford India, 2003).

RAJ CHANDAVARKAR is a historian and is Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge University, U.K., where he is a Fellow of Trinity College. He is the author of The Origins of Industrial Capitalism in India: Business Strategies and the Working Class in Bombay 1900-1940 (Cambridge, 1994) and Imperial Power and Popular Politics: Class, Resistance and the State in India 1850-1890 (Cambridge, 1998).

“The Urban Turn” (December 2002)

SHEKHAR KRISHNAN: Welcome everyone, on behalf of PUKAR. The panel discussion at The Bombay Paperie tonight is called “The Urban Turn”, which signifies many different things to many different people. What we wanted to do tonight was to honour the people who are sitting here, four distinguished historians and sociologists who have worked on Bombay in one aspect or the other. Continue reading The Urban Turn