India is undergoing a period of extraordinary urban transformation. For the first time in modern Indian history, the rate of urban growth is higher than that of the rural. Material transformations — freeways and tollways, malls and gated communities, changing work patterns and new forms of consumerism — are, however, also accompanied by social and cultural changes. What is also of enormous significance is that accelerated urbanism is not just a facet of life in large metropolises. It is also transforming lives in the towns and cities across India beyond those cities that have been the usual focus of scholars of urbanism. This book is extremely valuable for precisely this reason: it moves our gaze away from the ‘usual suspects’ to a city that is the capital of the most populous state in India, an urban locale of extraordinary historical importance and one that is undergoing a tremendous urban upheaval.
As global social, cultural and economic forces produce new imaginaries of city life, what actual spaces of co-operation and contest do they create? What visions do they produce of urban futures and how do governments and ordinary citizens engage with these visions? How does a city’s past influence visions of the future? These are just some of the valuable questions tackled by this book. Binti Singh has provided an indispensable guide to a form of urbanism which cannot simply be written upon a blank slate, but must deal with the deeply embedded histories of quotidian sociality as well as powerful contemporary processes of change. This is a timely book and present-day Lucknow richly deserves such detailed attention.