Post-independence homescapes in Delhi: Mohan Rakesh’s Andhere Band Kamre and a nouveau middle-class amidst persistent inequality

Sumedha Chakravarthy, Erin P. Riggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

After Independence, Delhi’s residential landscapes began to change, but to what degree did such changes impact the way individuals perceived of the city? The colonial government had drawn boundaries around impoverished spaces, removing and segregating them from hyper-regulated wealthy spaces. In contrast, the postcolonial state saw all spaces as falling within its regulatory purview and sought to actively intervene in such areas, not simply destroy or hide them. The postcolonial state also heavily invested in public housing and undertook ambitious projects aimed at bettering the living situations of the middle-class. Using a discussion of the homes and cityscapes described in Mohan Rakesh’s 1966 book Andhere Band Kamre, we consider how individuals perceived of built landscapes in Delhi during this post-Independence period of rapid change. We then present information from a present-day architectural survey of the locations described by Rakesh, drawing attention to the legacies of this post-Independence moment within the modern city. We conclude that, while the city remained segregated by wealth after Independence, many individuals experienced a fleeting optimism pertaining to their ability to move across hierarchical landscapes–an optimism that diminished as the transformative projects of the Nehruvian state struggled to significantly curb inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-406
Number of pages22
JournalSouth Asian History and Culture
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • anthropology
  • archaeology
  • architecture
  • built landscapes
  • Literature
  • urban studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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