Urban spatial and cultural transformation, experienced in cities in the global South including India, resonates with global patterns that have already been established (Sassen, 1991; Castells, 1996; Harvey, 1990; Lefebvre, 1996). For instance, Madanipour (2010) observes that “similarity between cities is in the converging methods of city building, in which the markets and new technologies are prominent” (ibid: 14).These transformations have left cities in India unsettled in many ways. Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, and historical, cultural and political epicenter of North India after New Delhi, is one such city. Concerns over changes, particularly observed in cities, from place (having shared meanings) to space (abstract and impersonal) have been expressed in literature on urban studies (Jacobs, 1961; Sitte, 1986; Massey, 1994). With changes set in motion by the forces of globalization (especially cultural ones), economic liberalization and political restructuring over the last two decades, Lucknow has been subjected to the experience of unsettled particularly in the form of disruption and rupture in its urban culture. If “culture is a phenomenon that tends to have intensely place-specific characteristics thereby helping to differentiate places from one another” (Scott, 1997: 394), then one can argue that dilution of culture results in the loss of sense of place. Given the homogenizing tendency of cultural globalization that compels cities in India to resemble any other globalized city with its rapidly transforming cityscape and dilution of local culture, how does the contemporary city in India maintain its particularized character?
While examining this central question, this study threads together diverse theoretical strands – namely city branding exercises as part of attracting investments following the 1 INTRODUCTION 2 | Culture, Place, Branding and Activism neoliberal logic; globalization and the impetus for place-based culture industries;citizens’ activisms as part of creating social solidarities and finally resurrection of the idea of place not only as a geographical territory but as a part of people’s social lives, their identity, memory, sense of belonging and pride, each contributing to place making in specific ways. Subsequent chapters will examine each of these theoretical strands backed with empirical evidence from contemporary Lucknow. Culture remains a contested terrain, used and appropriated by varied groups for varied purposes. The examination of these varied practices empirically grounded to the second-tier contemporary city in India contributes in two ways – first it breaks from the narrative of megacities (that dominates existing urban studies literature in India) and talks about the much neglected and lesser known smaller city. Second, reading culture through the lens of place and place making contributes to existing literature in the South Asian urban context that has seldom seen culture and place as having significant connections. The study argues how cultural policies and practices in the present- day Lucknow help resurrect the idea of place and place making in the face of the homogenizing tendencies of global forces. This marks a significant turn in the history of Lucknow that requires scholarly attention and provides the rationale for this volume.