Presenting The Past: Mumbai University’s Conference On The History Of The City

Elphinstone Circle, Horniman Circle, Mumbai, Bombay

Elphinstone Circle in the 1870s. Photo via Wikipedia.

Anyone with an interest in the city’s history will find rich pickings in ‘Power, Public Culture and Identity: Towards New Histories of Mumbai’, a two-day conference being organised by the history department of the University of Mumbai on Friday, January 6 and Saturday, January 7. At the event, 20 scholars and historians will present research on the city and seven academics and journalists such as Rachel Dwyer of the School of Oriental and African Studies, historian Mariam Dossal and editor Naresh Fernandes will lead discussions. The conference celebrates the work of Jim Masselos, a noted historian of Bombay and honorary associate of the history department of the University of Sydney.

On Friday, the research papers that will presented include ‘Mohammad Ali Rogay: Life and Times of a Bombay Country Trader’ by scholar Murali Ranganathan; ’New Urban Landscapes and the “Parsi Poor” at the turn of the 20th Century’ by historian Simin Patel, who runs the blog Bombaywalla; ‘Creating Social Spaces: the Life and Afterlife of the Bombay Theatre, 1770-1856’ by Erica Wald from Goldsmiths, University of London; ‘Selling Home: Marketing Home Furnishings in Late Colonial India’ by Abigail McGowan from the University of Vermont; and ‘Giovanni Scrinzi and B. R. Deodhar: An Intercultural Musical Dialogue in Colonial Bombay’ by musician Aneesh Pradhan.

Among the papers that will be read on Saturday are ‘Scandal Made: Bombay and Its Cinema in the 1920s’ by Kaushik Bhaumik from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi; ‘The Social Space of Dalit Literature: Caste, Housing, and Revolution in Bombay City, 1950 -1982’ by Juned Shaikh from the University of California, Santa Cruz; and ‘Muslim Workers and the Civil Disobedience Movement in Bombay, 1930-31’ by Robert Rahman Raman of the University of Gottingen in Germany.

The conference will take place on Friday, January 6, from 9am to 5.30pm and Saturday, January 7, from 9.30am to 6.30pm at the Alkesh Dinesh Mody Auditorium, University of Mumbai, Kalina campus, Santa Cruz (East). Get directions here. The registration fee is Rs1,000 per person; the fee must be paid in cash at the venue on Friday. To register and for the complete schedule, email

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