From the first half of the nineteenth century, the architectural history of medieval India has been the subject of diverse books, essays and miscellaneous writings. The present book pulls together the most significant of these writings, revealing the impressive array of historical ideas about India's past that has emerged through the study of its monuments.
The writings reproduced here are located by the editor within the specific intellectual, political and socio-cultural contexts within which they emerged and were elaborated. By this means, Monica Juneja makes this anthology a major historiographical intervention which traces the colonial emergence and nationalist development of, as well as contemporary advances in, the discipline of architectural history both within India and in relation to art history in the West.
Professor Juneja's introduction also examines the intellectual importance of architectural history for all historians, arguing that the study of India's medieval architecture needs to be made integral to every history of conquest, state-building, and the movements of populations and traditions across the subcontinent. She demonstrates that ideas about buildings and their histories have frequently been polemical and instrumental: they have been politically deployed to construct or fabricate a collective past. They have been used to provide symbolic meanings which have helped subjugate or unify heterogeneous communities and nations. In short, the architectural history of India's contentiously misnamed 'Muslim' period is revealed as the site of tensions between Hindus and Muslims, colonialists and nationalists, traditionalists and postmodernists.
This book will open the eyes of general readers and students to the politics of interpreting monuments often taken for granted, even as it attempts to resensitise scholars to the vitality and overwhelming relevance of this sometimes neglected area of historiography.