Building Histories offers innovative accounts of five medieval monuments in
Delhi-the Red Fort, Rasul Numa Dargah, Jama Masjid, Purana Qila, and the 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 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
Mrinalini Rajagopalan is Assistant Professor in the Department of the History
of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh.