Contemporary Lucknow oscillates between cosmopolitan past and provincial present, melancholy and aspirations, political centrality and economic decline. We assemble scholars in different career stages who recently completed fieldwork in Lucknow to chart the trajectories of the contemporary city.
Contemporary Lucknow abounds in contradictions: cosmopolitan for centuries yet thoroughly provincial, melancholic for a past long gone while bustling with aspirations, central to Indian politics but sidelined in narratives of "development". The city attracts many historians and some political scientists, but scholarship has long ignored its contemporary social life; most accounts end in the 1970s. Our panel thus assembles young scholars in different career stages who have recently completed fieldwork in and on Lucknow to chart the trajectories of the contemporary city. Bringing disciplinary diversity to an object overwhelmingly represented through historical accounts, we seek to reorient debates on South Asian cities with fresh empirical and theoretical insights from Lucknow. We revise the rich historiography of Lucknow in light of conceptual developments of "the city," even as we enrich urban theory by grounding it in local history. Some of us have met or collaborated earlier, others joined us for this specific project: to place contemporary Lucknow firmly within the growing literature on lower-tier Indian cities.