The recently published book titled “Lucknow: Culture, Place, Branding & Activitism” is a scholastic urban research work on contemporary urban transformation of Indian Second Tier cities. This especially brings about the urban discourse on second tier city subject whose genesis are embedded into the historic layers and are currently witnessing the rapid transformation. It builds interesting conversation on culture and heritage aspects of typical second tier Indian city with Lucknow as an example. The book has seven sections largely focusing on the reasons for the need of such literature work on Indian cities, the transformation through new imagination in tandem with neo-liberal economy and governance, the quality of urban life, place and urban experience within historic inner cores, culminating into the place making process in contemporary time through cultural activism. The book brings about the concerns on account of diverse and often conflicting imagination, subjecting second tier cities into an object of global representation through symbols, images & formation of urban design policy and practice. It further builds the argument that the global conversation in social and cultural terms produces contestation of strange character, which is unsympathetic to the pattern of evolution of Indian historic cities.
The trend is not limited to Indian cities; rather the urban spatial and cultural transformation is witness in global south, almost replicating the archetypical characters of emerging pattern. In author term, attempting to describe the phenomena as “sociologically, globalization is understood as compassing all the processes by which people are incorporated into one singular, global society by compression of time and space”showing the concern towards the dichotomy of “what is lived has moved away into representation” which amounting to the spectacles for mass consumption and consolidation of capitalist production through post-fordist mode of production, engaging simultaneous places and people as production place for branding.
The book has valuable account of wealth of theoretical research, their contextualization and emerging questions that are deeply embedded in understanding of urbanism of Indian historic cities. This book is a must read for urban researcher, urban design & conservation professionals and students.