Lahore and Istanbul: modernity in the Muslim Imperial city, c.1850-1960
Value: one unit
Dr. Markus Daechsel
Taught through weekly two-hour seminars
3-hour Exam (100%)
This course compares how city dwellers in two very different regions of the Muslim world – Turkey and South Asia – engaged with the political, cultural, social and economic changes of 'modernity'. We will focus on two distinct cities with great historical personalities: Lahore – often called the 'Paris of the East' – with its Mughal past, its role as one of the most vibrant and colourful cities of British India, now the cultural capital of Pakistan; and Istanbul - the jewel of the Ottoman Empire – with its cosmopolitan and multi-religious populations, its role as contact point between East and West and now one of the fastest growing megacities of a globalised world. We will explore the histories of these places with a whole range of questions and approaches: the changing face of city geography and architecture; the impact of political and economic change; material culture and its impact on social identities: urban housing and domestic life, mass entertainment in print and cinema; literature and art and their impact on political culture; finally, religious practice in urban space, processes of 'secularisation' and the question of religious pluralism. In assembling a comprehensive mosaic of urban cultures and in inviting students to explore their interconnectivity, this course aims at opening up 'Muslim modernity' as a social and historical experience, which is far richer and more contradictory than the usual vision of a textual and primarily 'religious' response to a Western 'challenge'.