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Space, Emotions and Identities in Vernacular Histories of Princely Rampur

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

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.

Affiliations: 1: Max Planck Institute for Human Development Berlin


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