Lucknow's Muslim middle class: competing narratives of modernity
(Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,Geneva)
Paper short abstract:
The paper starts with giving an overview of the transformation of the Muslim middle class in Lucknow under globalization in recent years. It moves on to delineating how narrative and performative aspects of middleclassness are tied to a new economic nationalism and discourses on Indian modernity.
Paper long abstract:
The last decade has seen an increased interest the "phenomenal rise of the Indian middle class". With economic liberalization since the 1990s, the entering of multinationals into the Indian market and the simultaneous process of a rapidly growing transnational media and consumption culture "new economies of desire" have developed. Boundaries between 'traditional India' and the 'modern West' have been broken down and a new national self-image as a modern global player has emerged. Public Indian discourses typically make a correlation between the growing middle class and the national pride of modern India. While increasing consumer choices, and western connoted values are important symbolic markers of middle class membership, the latter is linked to an expressive and confident affirmation of "Indianness" which is primarily oriented around a Hindu India. Taking the hype over the growing Indian middle class as a point of departure, the paper will questions this tacit equation of the middle class and Hindu Indian modernity and draws attention to the Muslim middle class. The paper, which is based on fieldwork in Lucknow, starts with giving an overview of the transformation of the Muslim middle class in Lucknow under globalization in recent years. It moves on to delineating how narrative and performative aspects of middleclassness are tied to a new economic nationalism and discourses on Indian modernity. A focus on the multipolar transnational references in knowledge production tries to trace the entangledness of competing narratives of modernity and middleclassness in India and within Muslim middle class in Lucknow in particular.
Contemporary Lucknow: life with "too much history"