From Indraprastha to Delhi: The Cityscape as Sediment of Memories


Urban centres evolve due to the convergence of large swathes of people in search of better opportunities; or cataclysmic events in the history of a nation may transform the demography of a place, leading to mutation in its culture. Cities become melting pots for diverse cultures and tend to be more cosmopolitan and eclectic in character. With an assortment of stimuli jostling for space, the processes of accommodation and assimilation that seethe under its vibrancy may be glimpsed through a study of cities. A "million mutinies" threaten the cohesive social fabric of a city and it negotiates these by accommodating, embracing, or overwhelming diversity. This may enable an understanding of ways to resolve larger conflicts. The paper attempts to trace the stamp of various influences on the city of Delhi that has survived successive onslaughts through the ages as depicted in literature, with a special focus on the most recent of tumultuous demographic change wrought upon the city at the time of independence and partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Through a reading of English fiction about Delhi, the paper traces the changes in the fabric of the city with a massive exodus of Muslims from the city of Delhi and an equally colossal influx of Punjabi Hindu and Sikh refugees. With vignettes from short fiction as well, the paper explores the ways in which chaos is charted and may be negotiated by a city to sustain itself as a vital life force of a nation.

Author Information
Hina Nandrajog, University of Delhi, India

Paper Information
Conference: HCNY2018
Stream: Language. Literature and Linguistics

This paper is part of the HCNY2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon