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Qaṣbas as Place

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A Sense of Belonging and Nostalgia in Colonial India

image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

The residents of the qaṣbas (unique small towns) of South Asia have claimed a distinct status for their lands and their cultural and intellectual attainments by comparing their towns to the prominent centers of the Islamic world, such as Baghdad and Córdoba. Such claims of qaṣbas being a sort of ideal place includes comparisons with sites of religious, intellectual, and historical importance within India such as Malwa and Kashmir. This essay examines—by drawing upon Urdu poetry, memoirs and related literature, and architecture—the ways in which people from qaṣbas have attached particular importance to their places of origin. It investigates the various ways of articulating such associational feelings and emotions, ranging from a sense of belonging and pride to nostalgia.

Affiliations: 1: Wake Forest University


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