The City and its Fragments: Past & Present in Colonial Bombay
Colonial Bombay has traditionally been understood as a city shaped primarily by the state and as a dual city with a white and native town. However, neither understanding is correct. Hence, how do we understand Bombay in terms of its multiple fragments, key actors who shaped the city, and the shared spaces and practices, which help its diverse residents cohere?
Rather than the product of the singular visions of the colonial regime, my work shows that colonial Bombay was shaped by the cultural encounters among multiple players defined by race, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, and profession. In a city where the vast majority of its residents were native, my work demonstrates the complex ways in which the spatial interventions of a variety of groups shaped Bombay in a political context. Rejecting the dualistic model of colonial cities, I introduce the perspective of “the city and its fragments.” These profound, multiple, fragments defined the city, whose shared institutions, spaces and practices, in term, helped to unify its diverse residents.
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