This article examines the salience of space and emotions in histories of Rampur, the last Muslim-ruled princely state in the colonial United Provinces in British India. It addresses, in particular, the categories of space and subjectivity by exploring place identity (Rāmpūr/Rampūrī) and the sentiment of belonging to Rampur (Rāmpūrīyat), which convey emotional attachment of the self to space. Emotional identification and sense of place also influence spatial practices. There is a shifting relationship between space and the way inhabitants relate it to their identity (or identities), which can be analyzed historically to understand how space and emotions are socially constructed and accrue further meanings. I examine a history of emotions by exploring a literary “space of imagination” where love of and attachment to Rampur are articulated and experienced. The paper focuses on local-history writing in Urdu to map the historical and emotional aspects of identifications with Rampur. Its local histories are marked by emotions of pride, love, nostalgia, and practices of memory, remembrance, and forgetting, all of which produce its “emotional geography.” Literariness, or a self-consciously literary sensibility, limns Rampur with meaning and qualities, particularly through descriptions of its geography and environment and the qualities of its inhabitants that connect the place with its people. The paper situates in history these shared emotions and their transformation, especially amid changes during the colonial period, the Partition of British India, and the integration of the princely state of Rampur into the post-colonial Indian nation state.
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K. ChatterjeeThe Cultures of History in Early Modern India: Persianization and Mughal Culture in Bengal (New Delhi: Oxford University Press2009); P. Deshpande Creative Pasts: Historical Memory and Identity in Western India 1700-1960 (New Delhi: Permanent Black 2007); S. Guha “Speaking Historically: The Changing Voices of Historical Narration in Western India 1400-1900.” American Historical Review 109/4 (2004): 1084-1103.
D. Chakrabarty“The Public Life of History: An Argument Out of India.”Public Culture20/1 (February 2008): 150. Also id. “Empire Ethics and the Calling of History.” In Ethical Life in South Asia ed. A. Pandian and D. Ali (Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2010).
S.P. BlakeShahjahanabad: The Sovereign City in Mughal India 1639-1739 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press1991). See also S. Kavuri-Bauer Monumental Matters: The Power Subjectivity and Space of India’s Mughal Architecture (Durham nc: Duke University Press 2011).
GhanīAkhbār2: 456. On the contemporary condition and politics of the fort in Rāmpūr see R. Khan “The Case of Falling Walls: Politics of Demolition and Preservation in Rampur” Economic and Political Weekly 49/12 (22 March 2014).
J.J.L. GommansThe Rise of the Indo-Afghan Empire c. 1710-1780 (Leiden: Brill1995): 169. Gommans writes about the shifting geographry of Roh in Indo-Afghan texts as an area corresponding to present-day Afghanistan between Iran Turan Hind and Sind.
D.H.A. KolffNaukar Rajput and Sepoy: The Ethnohistory of the Military Labour Market of Hindustan 1450-1850 (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Oriental Publications1990); S. Alavi The Sepoys and the Company: Tradition and Transition in Northern India 1770-1830 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press 1995).
I.Ḥ. ṢiddīqīUrdū mēṅ taʾrīkh nigārī kī ibtidāʾ (Rampur: Raza Library2008). Commenting briefly on the Akhbār Siddiqui (2008: 287) dismisses most of the text as derivative lacking historical depth but he does commend the book as a good example of regional history (rījanal taʾrīkh nigārī).