It was the era of the Raj, and yet this book reveals the unexpected role of native communities in the transformation of the urban fabric of British Bombay from 1854 to 1918. The book demonstrates how British Bombay was, surprisingly, a collaboration of the colonial government and the Indian and European mercantile and industrial elite who shaped the city to serve their combined interests. The book shows how the European and Indian engineers, architects, and artists worked with each other to design a city—its infrastructure, architecture, public sculpture—that was literally constructed by Indian laborers and craftsmen. Beyond the built environment, Indian philanthropists entered into partnerships with the colonial regime to found and finance institutions for the general public. Too often thought to be the product of the singular vision of a founding colonial regime, British Bombay is revealed by this text as an expression of native traditions meshing in complex ways with European ideas of urban planning and progress. The result, it argues, was the creation of a new shared landscape for Bombay's citizens that ensured that neither the colonial government nor the native elite could entirely control the city's future.
1 A Joint Enterprise
This chapter establishes the concept that Bombay was built and controlled jointly by the colonial rulers and the Indian and European mercantile and industrial elite to serve the interests of these classes and the commerce of the city. Arguing against the popular notion that a colonial city is the product of the singular vision of the colonial regime, it builds on recent literature that shows how a variety of colonial cities resulted as much from contributions of local populations as from contributions of the colonial regime or settlers. The objective is to demonstrate the operation of the joint enterprise and to introduce readers to Bombay by discussing the urbanization of the city and important phases of its growth.
2 Anglo-Indian Architecture and the Meaning of Its Styles
This chapter explores the architectural style of Bombay during the period roughly between the second half of the nineteenth century and World War I, a period when most of Bombay's public institutions were founded and the city's image as a Gothic Revival capital was established. It argues that the imperial styles—particularly Gothic Revival—of Bombay reflect the joint partnership between architects, engineers, craftsmen, native philanthropists, and the colonial government, as well as the new public arena they created, rather than simply the virtues of the colonial regime. It also shows what Bombay's Gothic Revival architecture meant to the colonial elite and its native population more generally.
3 The Biography of an Unknown Native Engineer
This chapter seeks to revise the account of who built Bombay by introducing a new set of actors—Indian civil engineers who worked for the government and who also participated in the construction of major civic buildings that represented the Raj. They have been long neglected not only because their work and biographies are not well documented, but also because they have no place in this narrative. The chapter focuses on the career of one individual, Indian architect and engineer Khan Bahadur Muncherji C. Murzban. It shows that Murzban did not simply superintend the construction of buildings in Bombay; he was the architect of several Victorian buildings in Bombay.
4 Dividing Practices in Bombay’s Hospitals and Lunatic Asylums
Focusing on hospitals and lunatic asylums, this chapter shows how both the British authorities and the Indian philanthropists created a divided public realm, a fractured landscape, through their dividing practices. It examines two types of social dividing practices or modes: stylistic marking and spatial exclusion. Drawing on Michel Foucault's work, the anthropologist Paul Rabinow defines “dividing practices” as “modes of manipulation that combine the mediation of a science (or pseudoscience) and the practice of exclusion—usually in a spatial sense, but always in a social one.” The European sick, for example, were distinguished from the native sick in Bombay; they were housed in different hospitals, located in different spaces in the city. When similar architectural styles were used for European and native hospitals, then other elements, such as location or the name (such as “European” or “native” hospital), were necessary to distinguish between groups.
5 An Unforeseen Landscape of Contradictions
This chapter examines colonial Bombay's public institutions at the turn of the twentieth century, where class made its appearance as a new category of differentiation between groups. Despite the divisions in the public realm, the shared spaces helped in the construction of an “Indian” identity in contrast to Europeans who had their own institutions. At the turn of the century, attempts influenced by the spirit of “nationalism” tried to bring advanced scientific education and control of public institutions to Indians. By the early twentieth century, new medical and scientific institutions supported by native philanthropy sought to exclude European expertise. At the turn of the century, the old joint enterprise between the colonial government and native elite was on the wane. An unexpected outcome of the joint enterprise was that native philanthropy would increasingly be applied toward the nurture of native expertise.
6 Of Gods and Mortal Heroes: Conundrums of the Secular Landscape of Colonial Bombay
This chapter examines the secularization of Indian religious structures by the British, and the accommodation of the religious by Indians into the secular public landscape. The British redirected some associations of monuments by converting certain places of worship to secular use, such as for a governor's residence or as a protected public monument. Public buildings and spaces were meant to accommodate British worthies and underscore the benefits of colonial rule, thereby upholding the myths of the colonizer's civil religion. However, the local population redirected the meanings associated with secular colonial public buildings and public gardens by introducing religious buildings and rituals into these sites. Moreover, through acts of philanthropy, the Indian elite ensured that there was space for both British and Indian worthies at these sites.