Building Histories offers innovative accounts of five medieval monuments in Delhi the Red Fort, Rasul Numa dargah, Jama Masjid, Purana Qila, and Qutb complex tracing their modern lives from the nineteenth century into the twentieth. ?Mrinalini Rajagopalan argues that the modern construction of the history of these monuments entailed the careful selection, manipulation, and regulation of the past by both the colonial and later postcolonial states. Although framed as objective archival truths, these histories were meant to erase or marginalize the powerful and persistent affective appropriations of the monuments by groups who often existed outside of the center of power. By analyzing these archival and affective histories together, Rajagopalan works to redefine the historic monument far from a symbol of a specific past, the monument is shown in Building Histories to be a culturally mutable object with multiple stories to tell.
Mrinalini Rajagopalan is assistant professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh.