Public spaces and discursive practices in colonial Delhi 1860-1915

Bhasin, Gurpreet (2008). Public spaces and discursive practices in colonial Delhi 1860-1915. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ea50

Abstract

In this thesis I explore why public spaces were important for the colonial state and for Indians in Delhi and I examine how the various inhabitants of the city discursively constructed these spaces and participated in them in order to fulfil specific cultural and political objectives. I look closely at encounters between the British and the Indians in public spaces in the context of religious processions in the late nineteenth century and in the context of political activities and the growth of print culture in the early twentieth century in order to show how public spaces were constructed by multiple and complex discourses and discursive practices. I analyse how the colonial state defined its roles in the public spaces of Delhi in response to the evolving cultural and political ambitions of the Indians and I explore how the Indians, not only contributed to the formation of the colonial state, but also how they mobilised a range of resources and strategies and positioned themselves in a number of discursive networks in order to construct and participate in colonial public spaces. My aim is to uncover the different considerations and priorities that informed the encounters between the British and the Indians and which were defined by diverse dynamics such as conflict, resistance, negotiation, and dialogue. This thesis contributes to colonial urban studies and postcolonial geographies by analysing the construction of public spaces and the connections between them as a series of processes in which the British and the Indians participated, through a range of entangled practices which were informed by local, national, and global discourses, exchanges, and events.

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