Resurrecting Banaras: Urban Space, Architecture and Religious Boundaries

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ProQuest, 2007 - 532 pages
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This dissertation examines the intersection of religious nationalism and the built environment in the context of an individual city, Banaras, in northern India from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. This urban landscape was created both materially as well as discursively by indigenous Hindu elite, as a physical manifestation of a revivalist religious agenda. Inspired chiefly by Sanskrit religious texts on the city, and shaped largely by the opportunities and limitations of colonial rule, the construction of its sacred landscape turned Banaras into a center of revived Hindu ritual life. A newly constructed material environment of temples, wharves and ritual bathing tanks was simultaneously represented as antique in indigenous pilgrimage maps and religious literature and as evidence of the city's timelessness in orientalist paintings, texts and memoirs. Combining a wide spectrum of archival material including colonial administrative documents, colonial and indigenous travel writings, maps, guidebooks, pictorial representations and magazine and newspaper articles, the ways in which Hindu Banal as was created and represented, are analyzed.

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Abstract 1
Colonial Regulation
Juxtaposition and the Politics of Memory
Inventing a Historical Cartography
Inventing a Geography of Pilgrimage
Creating Public Space Indigenous Initiatives
Making a Hindu Icon
Fabricating Hindu Architecture

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