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Tag Archives: history

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 [...]

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 [...]

Open Historical Maps


Open Historical Maps: Crowdsourcing, Open Source GIS, and the Research Web ABCD GIS Group, Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis Wednesday 15 April 2009 from 12.00-14.00 CGIS North Building, Room S050, 1737 Cambridge Street Download Presentation PDF Our presentation will show how open source GIS and curated “crowdsourcing” can create an infinite archive of places for [...]

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, [...]



For the second time in two weeks, I’m back in Hyde Park, at the University of Chicago. While I’m officially attending the Chicago Colloquium for Digital Humanities and Computer Science on Sunday and Monday, on Saturday I sat in on the 100 Years of the All-India Muslim League Colloquium organised by Manan and Rajeev. It [...]

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 [...]

Remembering Raj Chandavarkar


Historian Rajnarayan Chandavarkar, whom I had known closely for the past seven years in London and Bombay, died of a sudden heart attack while at a conference on Four Cities in Modernity at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire on 23 April 2006. As a friend and mentor, his death was a great loss to me [...]