Bombay’s history is woven around tales of cosmopolitanism. But while the grandiose architecture of the colonial city gets all the attention, the vernacular architecture built by the cosmopolitanism from below in the so-called “Native Town” nearby is too often overlooked.
In the southern Indian port city of Kochi, millennia of merchant cosmopolitanism have contributed to the growth of a diverse and syncretic culture that combines faiths, practices, and forms from across the Indian Ocean rim. The history of Syriac Christianity and Sephardic Judaism in the region offer a unique perspective on Kerala’s historic relationship with the Middle East.
Ajam co-editor-in-chief Alex Shams interviews Shahana Rajani and Zahra Malkani about their new edited volume “Exhausted Geographies,” which explores representations of the urban space of Karachi, Pakistan through mapping.
The items collected for the Ajam Digital Archive will allow us to document and record history from below—how it was actually lived, experienced, and understood. It is precisely these histories that were ignored in favor of tales that focused exclusively on wars and revolutions, rarely giving us a sense of how life was lived amidst it all.
Despite the Zoroastrian community’s waning numbers, the urban fabric of Mumbai’s older neighborhoods remain dominated by symbols and reminders of the Parsi and Irani communities’ success in the Subcontinent.