House, but No GardenApartment Living in Bombay's Suburbs, 1898-1964

House, but No GardenApartment Living in Bombay's Suburbs, 1898-1964

Nikhil Rao

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780816678129

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Abstract

Between the well-documented development of colonial Bombay and sprawling contemporary Mumbai, a profound shift in the city’s fabric occurred: the emergence of the first suburbs and their distinctive pattern of apartment living. This book considers this phenomenon and its significance for South Asian urban life. It explores the organization of the middle-class neighborhood which became ubiquitous in the mid-twentieth-century city and which has spread throughout the subcontinent. This book examines how the challenge of converting lands from agrarian to urban use created new relations between the state, landholders, and other residents of the city. At the level of dwellings, apartment living in self-contained flats represented a novel form of urban residence, one that expressed a compromise between the caste and class identities of suburban residents who are upper caste but belong to the lower-middle or middle class. Living in such a built environment, under the often conflicting imperatives of maintaining the exclusivity of caste and subcaste while assembling residential groupings large enough to be economically viable, led suburban residents to combine caste with class, type of work, and residence to forge new metacaste practices of community identity.