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A Joint Enterprise

Indian Elites and the Making of British Bombay

2011
Author:

Preeti Chopra

A Joint Enterprise

An in-depth look at the urban history of British Bombay

A Joint Enterprise reveals the unexpected role of native communities in the transformation of the urban fabric of British Bombay from 1854 to 1918. Preeti Chopra demonstrates how British Bombay was a collaboration of the colonial government and the Indian and European mercantile and industrial elite who shaped the city to serve their combined interests, creating a shared landscape for Bombay’s citizens.

A Joint Enterprise is an ambitious, original, and interesting book on a valuable topic. Preeti Chopra provides unique interpretations of, among other things, the Indian reception and interpretation of the neo-Gothic architecture of the colonial regime.

Anthony King, author of Spaces of Global Cultures: Architecture, Urbanism, Identity

It was the era of the Raj, and yet A Joint Enterprise reveals the unexpected role of native communities in the transformation of the urban fabric of British Bombay from 1854 to 1918. Preeti Chopra 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.

Chopra 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 Chopra as an expression of native traditions meshing in complex ways with European ideas of urban planning and progress.

The result, she 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.

A Joint Enterprise

Preeti Chopra is associate professor of visual culture studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has worked as an architect and landscape architect and has trained as a city and regional planner with a focus on urban design.

A Joint Enterprise

A Joint Enterprise is an ambitious, original, and interesting book on a valuable topic. Preeti Chopra provides unique interpretations of, among other things, the Indian reception and interpretation of the neo-Gothic architecture of the colonial regime.

Anthony King, author of Spaces of Global Cultures: Architecture, Urbanism, Identity

One ends Chopra’s engaging book wondering if the first major dents to colonial Bombay’s famed cosmopolitanism came from these segregating medical and housing policies rather than events like the Hindu-Muslim Riots of 1893.

Hamazor

A Joint Enterprise is an extremely able and well-informed survey of an interesting subject.

The Times Literary Supplement

Chopra’s monograph is a true contribution to bringing architectural practice and perception into the history of Bombay city.

Journal of Asian Studies

Offers a new perspective on urban social history.

Enterprise and Society

Offers a skillfully crafted and nuanced reading of the colonial experience that challenges the polemics of racial and cultural segregation while articulating far more complex hierarchies of power.

Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

A Joint Enterprise provides a fabulous history of colonial domination and resistance through architectural and urban development in colonial Bombay.

South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies

Vital to understanding the architectural genealogy of the city.

Buildings & Landscapes

...[Joint Enterprise] succeeds in evoking for readers the character and feel of the 19th century city as inhabited space and as a place of buildings and structures.

Jim Masselos, South Asia Journal for Culture

Preeti Chopra’s A Joint Enterprise is a detailed, well-researched, illuminating work that makes a clear argument: ‘colonial’ cities are far less ‘colonial’ than we imagine. [It] is a major accomplishment, clearly the product of intensive research over many years by a scholar deeply committed to and knowledgeable in her chosen field.

Interventions

This book is a valuable addition to the literature on South Asian urbanism. The ‘joint public realm’ is a useful effort to conceptualize the manner in which Indians engaged with notions like the public.

Nikhil Rao, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

As ambitious as it is imaginative, this book combines critical perspectives on the materiality and visibility of the modern city with an insightful examination of the agency of both colonial rulers and indigenous subjects. Elegantly presented and effectively developed.

David Arnold, Victorian Studies

A Joint Enterprise

Author’s Note
Introduction
1. A Joint Enterprise
2. Anglo-Indian Architecture and the Meaning of Its Styles
3. The Biography of an Unknown Native Engineer
4. Dividing Practices in Bombay’s Hospitals and Lunatic Asylums
5. An Unforeseen Landscape of Contradictions
6. Of Gods and Mortal Heroes: Conundrums of the Secular Landscape of Colonial
Bombay
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index