Selfies from the Archive: Ulka Anjaria

Freedom Books Shop

April 2, 2016

Our Selfies in the Archive series, in which we spotlight our faculty and all the interesting places they take their research, continues with Ulka Anjaria in Mumbai:

Ulka Anjaria in the Indian Writing section of a bookstoreWhen you study contemporary literature, archives appear everywhere. This is even more the case in Mumbai, where books are all around you. My research on how recent literature articulates an Indian contemporary takes me to venues large and small, intellectual and popular, where I can see what books are being read and circulated, and where the culture of books melds into the everyday life of the city. It is only in the last 10-15 years that Indian bookstores have reserved entire sections for Indian literature. Meanwhile, the Indian publishing industry has vastly expanded, making a wider range of fiction available to a wider range of readers. The street stalls, by contrast, cram a wide variety of reading material - from literary fiction to self-help, from magazines to books - into a small space. This hetereogeneity, this breaking down of conventional boundaries between "high" and "low" writing, raises the question of what literature is and its relationship to the city. These are some of the questions I've been exploring this year in Mumbai.