Delhi, one of the world's largest cities, has faced momentous challenges—mass migration, competing governing authorities, controversies over citizenship, and communal violence. To understand the contemporary plight of India's capital city, Delhi Reborn: Partition and Nation Building in India's Capital (Stanford UP, 2022) revisits one of the most dramatic episodes in its history, telling the story of how the city was remade by the twin events of partition and independence.
Treating decolonization as a process that unfolded from the late 1930s into the mid-1950, Rotem Geva traces how India and Pakistan became increasingly territorialized in the imagination and practice of the city's residents, how violence and displacement were central to this process, and how tensions over belonging and citizenship lingered in the city and the nation. She also chronicles the struggle, after 1947, between the urge to democratize political life in the new republic and the authoritarian legacy of colonial rule, augmented by the imperative to maintain law and order in the face of the partition crisis. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Geva reveals the period from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s as a twilight time, combining features of imperial framework and independent republic. Geva places this liminality within the broader global context of the dissolution of multiethnic and multireligious empires into nation-states and argues for an understanding of state formation as a contest between various lines of power, charting the links between different levels of political struggle and mobilization during the churning early years of independence in Delhi.
Rotem Geva is Lecturer in Asian Studies and History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a historian of South Asia concentrating on 20th-century India. Her research and teaching interests include colonialism, nationalism, territorial partitions and mass violence, and urban history.
Niharika Yadav is a PhD candidate in the history department at Princeton University. She is a historian of South Asia whose research interests include the genealogies of literary and political practices; print cultures; and language movements in postcolonial India.
Niharika Yadav is a postdoctoral fellow in South Asian History at Macalester College. Her research interests connect the histories of political and literary practices with studies of language, caste, and gender in postcolonial India, and on a broader scale, with global histories of democracy and socialism.