Postcolonial Utopias: Historiographies of India’s Urban Future
by Ayona Datta, William Gould, Rebecca Madgin and Anu Sabhlok (eds.)
(under contract) Manchester University Press
This edited collection seeks to interweave postcolonial historiography and critical urban theory to examine the histories, imaginations and possibilities of alternative urban utopias in an urban age. As one of the outcomes of an AHRC-ICHR jointly funded project titled ‘Learning from the Utopian City: Alternative histories of India’s urban futures’, it aims to explore how an understanding of the histories of utopian urban planning can inform the trajectories of future cities and rapid urbanization in the global south and north.
The book’s scope is an interdisciplinary examination of the ways that ideas of utopian urbanism have been translated across the global north and south, and what this tells us about the futures of cities. It is broad in both intellectual and geographical scope, but also specifically framed around the histories, spatio-temporalities and progressive potentialities of the idea of utopia. It is methodologically diverse, drawing upon archival research and traditional social science enquiry as well as innovative forms of visual ethnography. Its purpose is to recast utopian theory and practice as paradigms for critical urbanism, by looking simultaneously at the lived, conceived and perceived spaces of utopia. In doing so, it seeks to probe how utopian thinking is embodied and engendered by subaltern citizens to sustain as well as challenge normative regulation of blueprint utopias. Finally, it outlines a call for the ‘imperative to imagine’ (Jameson 2005, 416) radical alternatives in a global neoliberal urban age and provincialize and destabilise the very foundations of western utopian thought across both global north and south.