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Tag Archives: books

Future Sense


Published in shorter form in TimeOut Mumbai, 25 April 2013 A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook (London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013) This new book by American journalist and writer Daniel Brook is an essential addition to the bookshelves of anyone interested in how cities like Mumbai both aspire and attempt to fulfill [...]

Do Buildings Have Agency?


This book review appeared in slightly edited form as “Do Buildings Have Agency?” in Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai), Vol XLVI No.30, 23 July 2011 Neera Adarkar, ed., The Chawls of Mumbai: Galleries of Life (Gurgaon: imprintOne, 2011) Can built forms have their own subjectivity? Architects, geographers and urban planners would surely answer this question [...]

Skyscrapers and Sweatshops


A shorter version of this essay was published in Mint Lounge on 28 May 2011. Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the City: How our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier (New York: Penguin Press, 2011) The past two decades have seen large cities in North America and Europe decisively rebound from a [...]

A Rule of Property for Bombay


This book review appeared in slightly edited form as “Micro-History of Mumbai” in Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai), Vol XLV No.36 September 04, 2010.   Mariam Dossal, Theatre of Conflict, City of Hope: Mumbai, 1660 to Present Times (New Delhi: Oxford University Press India, 2010) Historian Mariam Dossal’s new book on Bombay/Mumbai is a major [...]

Obdurate Urbanism


Anique Hommels, Unbuilding Cities: Obduracy in Urban Socio-Technical Change. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2005. While sharing a common intellectual genealogy, the contemporary disciplines of science and technology studies (STS) and urban studies have followed divergent paths of development, and flourished in largely separated academic compartments. Anique Hommels’s Unbuilding the City argues for the complementarity of [...]

Ravinder Kumar


In the final week of the semester,I have been avidly procrastinating by reading the major works of Ravinder Kumar, the social historian of western India. Apart from the phenomenal account of the rise of British power in nineteenth century Maharashtra in his magisterial Western India in the Nineeeth Century (1968), I have been dipping into [...]

History of Computing


In my own lifetime of thirty years, global society has been transformed by the widespread availability of inexpensive computing technology. Indeed, only within the past ten years, a new combination of commoditised hardware, software, and network infrastructure has put this technology within reach of millions of new people. A certain taint of presentism is, therefore, [...]

Frontier Dialectics


In the writing of nationalist histories of the United States, it is difficult to find a more succinct statement of space as an organising metaphor of nationhood than the “frontier thesis” of Frederick Jackson Turner. In his famous address of 1893 to the American Historical Association meeting during the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Turner [...]

Democratic Politics and Economic Reform in India


Rob Jenkins, Democratic Politics and Economic Reforms in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. For better or for worse, in most countries of the post-Cold War world, a fairly generalised packaging of liberal-democratic state institutions and neoclassical market economics has now achieved hegemony as the prescription of the possible future. A host of international financial [...]

The Worlds of Indian Industrial Labour


Jan Breman, Karin Kapadia, Jonathan Parry, eds., The Worlds of Indian Industrial Labour (Contributions to Indian Sociology, Occassional Studies 9). New Delhi and London: Sage Publications, 1999 Marking both a renewal of interest in labour studies and an important disciplinary shift, the publication of this anthology is a significant event. Introduced by Jonathan Parry, the [...]