Colonial City Analysis

1322 Words 6 Pages
The study of colonial cities is an eminent subject among historians and social scientists, where the architecture and the planning of the city has been analyzed in order to unpack different cultural and social meanings prescribed to them by the colonizer and the colonized. These cities underwent processes of modernization once under colonial rule, such as new technological innovations and capitalistic development. The British Empire has been the focal point when studying the colonial city, since it had one of the largest imperial networks. Preeti Chopra, an associate professor of Architecture, urban history and visual studies, specifically in the history of South Asia, examines the colonial city of Bombay from the second half of the nineteenth …show more content…
Chopra brings to light the often overlooked natives who helped in the creation and maintenance of the colonial city. A previous conceived notion that the colonizer built their imperial cities completely on their own with their own agendas is challenged throughout Chopra’s text. It’s argued that “British Bombay was envisioned and built jointly by colonial rulers and Indian and European mercantile and industrial elites to serve various interests,” therefore giving agency to not only the British but to the Indian elites and workers as well. Chopra calls this a “joint enterprise,” where native philanthropists and the British colonizers worked together to create a new public realm. These new public spaces were often filled with contradictions, with the partnership between the British and Indian elites often embedding in the city fragmented ideas of race, religion, class, and caste. The monograph is divided into …show more content…
Chopra uses a diverse assortment of sources and places visual proof throughout the book to substantiate the claim that British Bombay was built through a joint enterprise between native elites and the British ruling class. It would be interesting to read about more colonial cities within India in order to see if Bombay was an exceptional case, or if all colonial cities had some sort of joint participation between natives and the colonial government. While Chopra supports her argument throughout the six chapters, a conclusion could have been beneficial for wrapping up the different aspects she brought in, and could have been a venue for opening up Bombay’s and other Indian cities’ similarities in their construction. The developing Indian identity that Chopra writes about is only mentioned briefly, sources from natives other than the elites would have helped to visualize this perspective more clearly. Overall, readers will find the idea of the ‘joint enterprise’ persuasive and easily

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