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 anthropologist Prof Michael M.J. Fischer and historian Dr Nikhil Rao at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
From 2006 to 2008 we hosted social scientists and urban researchers who presented their work in-progress alongside selected texts and sources on urbanisation in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America. Files linked in the posts below are provided solely for purposes of study, research, and education.
I taught this course for doctoral students in the Graduate School in Science Education at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, in the fall semester of 2015.
About the Course
This graduate course is designed to expose doctoral students to the history and sociology of modern science education in colonial and post-colonial India, with a focus on ideas and institutions, concepts and thinkers, and major debates in this emerging field.
The seminar will meet twice per week for four months, and is spread over three units or themes of five weeks each on 1. “Colonialism & Modernity”, 2. “Nation & State” and 3. “Education, Policy & Society”.
Participants shall take turns writing three 500-600 word review/discussion papers on the assigned readings for prior circulation via the mailing list, as well as to lead discussion in that day’s seminar session.
The main requirement is a long essay or research paper of 5,000-6,000 words, comprising a literature review, social, demographic or other data with a theoretical argument on education, science and society in India. Rough drafts are due mid-way in the term.
All seminar participants are expected to complete close reading of assigned texts in advance in every session, and be prepared to participate in person and online via the course mailing list.
This is a conference panel which I organised for the Urban History Association 4th Biennial Conference on “Shock Cities”: Urban Form in Historical Perspective, Houston, Texas, 6 November 2008.
Until recently, the historical study of cities in South Asia has had to contend with an anti-urban bias. If, as nationalists often asserted, “the real India” lived in its villages, the countryside was more deserving of scholarly inquiry than cities. When forced to confront rapid urbanization in recent decades, postcolonial planners viewed the city less as a ocial form than as a set of problems, an ahistorical object of state intervention and control. These biases have shaped modern scholarship on South Asia, where urban change has been submerged within the narrative frameworks of colonial power, resistance and identity – concerns which have dominated nationalist historiography and postwar area studies.
Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Indian Cinema in the Time of Celluloid: From Bollywood to Emergency. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.
Janaki Nair, The Promise of the Metropolis: Bangalore’s Twentieth Century. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press India, 2005).
Nair, Beladide Noda Bengaluru Nagara!, Photo Exhibition on “Worlding the City : The Futures of Bangalore”, 2000
Chattopadhyay, Swati. Representing Calcutta: Modernity, Nationalism and the Colonial Uncanny. Routledge, 2006.
Sudipta Kaviraj, “Filth and the Public Sphere: Concepts and Practices about Space in Calcutta”, Public Culture vol.10, no.1 (1997) pp.83-113.
Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Of Garbage, Modernity and the Citizen’s Gaze” in Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002, pp.65-79.
Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Adda: A History of Sociality” in Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000, pp.180-213.
Stephen Legg. Spaces of Colonialism: Delhi’s Urban Governmentalities. Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.
Stephen P. Blake, Shahjahanabad: The Sovereign City in Mughal India 1639-1739, New Edition (Cambridge University Press, 2002).
Stephen Legg, “Beyond the European Province: Foucault and Postcolonialism,” in Space, Knowledge and Power: Foucault and Geography, ed. Jeremy W. Crampton and Stuart Elden (Ashgate Publishing, 2007).
Stephen Legg, “Ambivalent Improvements: Biography, Biopolitics, and Colonial Delhi,” Environment and Planning A 40, no. 1 (2008): 37-56.
This is a panel which I organised with Professor of Geography Matthew Gandy and Andrew Harris of University College London (UCL) at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) on Friday 18 April 2008 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel, 10 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts. See this link to AAG Online Program Panel 4551.
Over the last decade, Mumbai has become far more prominent within international coverage of contemporary urbanism. This greater focus on Mumbai has been a welcome rejoinder to a continued predominance of North American and European cities within urban studies and debate. Yet in accounting for urban change in Mumbai, there has been a tendency to uncritically adopt Eurocentric models and terminology.
This session seeks to explore some of the ways that Mumbai disrupts and contradicts existing categories, histories and narratives of urban analysis. The session will question some of the institutional frameworks for urban research and a tendency for debates about the future of cities to be initiated and directed by experts and practitioners based in the global North.
It will attempt to assess why Mumbai has recently assumed significance as an urban archetype, and examine ways urbanists can help facilitate scholarship in cities such as Mumbai, and develop new progressive forms of learning and research. The aim is not to isolate Mumbai as an exceptional form of urbanism nor to confer paradigmatic status on Mumbai, but to show how a city such as Mumbai can be used to generate new theoretical dialogue, greater historical perspective and open up new channels of urban policy formation.
Andrew Harris, Department of Geography and Urban Laboratory, University College London (UCL)
Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria, Department of Anthropology, University of California at Santa Cruz
Shekhar Krishnan, Program in Science Technology & Society, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Nikhil Rao, Department of History, Wellesley College
Ninad Pandit, Department of Urban Studies & Planning (DUSP), MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
- Why has Mumbai increasingly been used as a resource for international urban research and debate (e.g. Urban Age)? What models, metaphors and categories have been deployed to depict Mumbai, and what have been their capacities and limitations? Why have certain processes and spaces been emphasised?
- How does this new international spotlight on the city reinforce/overlap with the portrayal of Mumbai as world class? How and where do these new circuits of knowledge operate?
- Can Mumbai be used as a laboratory for refiguring, complicating and renewing (Eurocentric) urban concepts and theories? How can comparative research between Mumbai and cities elsewhere best be framed and undertaken?
- How have narratives of history in Bombay/Mumbai been assembled and fragmented, and has there been sufficient analysis of the city’s specific formations of modernity? Is a colonial gaze being replayed in contemporary urban redevelopment policies and practices? What does this teach us in terms of wider understandings of a ‘colonial present’?
- What research strategies and institutional arrangements are best able to cope with Mumbai’s opaque, mythical and chaotic qualities and the dynamic and performative forms of power in the city? Does researching Mumbai demand and generate new innovative methodologies and outputs?
- What examples and opportunities does Mumbai provide to imagine and realise new notions of citizenship that challenge neoliberal world views and offer a radical democratisation of urban politics? How have alliances been formed, dialogue created and ideas translated between Mumbai and other cities?
Hazareesingh, Sandip. The Colonial City and the Challenge of Modernity : Urban Hegemonies and Civic Contestations in Bombay City 1900-1925. New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2007.
Chopra, Preeti. “Refiguring the Colonial City: Recovering the Role of Local Inhabitants in the Construction of Colonial Bombay, 1854-1918.” Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum 14 (2007): 109-125.
Hazareesingh, Sandip. “Colonial Modernism and the Flawed Paradigms of Urban Renewal: Uneven Development in Bombay, 1900–25.” Urban History 28, no. 02 (2001): 235-255.
Hazareesingh, Sandip. “The Quest for Urban Citizenship: Civic Rights, Public Opinion, and Colonial Resistance in Early Twentieth-Century Bombay.” Modern Asian Studies 34, no. 4 (October 2000): 797-829.
Glover, William J. Making Lahore Modern: Constructing and Imagining a Colonial City. University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
Glover, William J. “Objects, Models, and Exemplary Works: Educating Sentiment in Colonial India.” The Journal of Asian Studies 64, no. 03 (2007): 539-566.
Glover, William J. “Construing Urban Space as “Public” in Colonial India: Some Notes from the Punjab.” The Journal of Punjab Studies 15, no. 1 (forthcoming 2008): 1-14.
Plotz, John. “One-Way Traffic: George Lamming and the Portable Empire.” In After the Imperial Turn: Thinking With and Through the Nation, edited by Antoinette Burton, 308-23. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.