The book presents a rich and surprising account of the recent history of the rth Indian city of Banaras. Supplementing traditional accounts, which have focused upon the city's religious imaginary, this volume brings together essays written by ackwledged experts in rth Indian culture and history to examine the construction of diverse urban identities in, and after, the British colonial period. Drawing on fields such as archaeology, literature, history, and architecture, these accounts of Banaras understand the narratives which inscribe the city as having been forged substantially in the experiences of British rule. But while British rule transformed the city in many respects, the essays also emphasize the importance of Indian agency in these processes. The book also examines the essential ambiguity of modernization schemes in the city as well as the contingency of elements of religious narrative. The introduction, moreover, attempts to resituate Banaras into a wider tradition of urban studies in South Asia. The book will be of interest to t only scholars and students of rth Indian culture and urban history, but also anyone looking to gain a deeper appreciation of this remarkable, and complex, city.
Michael S. Dodson is Associate Professor of South Asian History, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA.