The Making of British Lahore: Fulfillment of a Colonial Desire

Shahid Imtiaz & Rizwan Akhtar


Lahore before it was annexed by the British in 1849 was the capital city of Ranjit Singh’s kingdom. The death of Ranjit Singh in 1839, the ensuing civil war, and a scramble for power (1839-49) amongst his successors destroyed the city of Lahore. Even before Ranjit Singh took power the city had lost its splendor achieved during the Mughal rule (1526-1875). After its annexation by the British, in 1849 Lahore emerged as a colonial city. The Lahore emerging under British rule became the site of colonial desire. After the British took control of the city of Lahore pre-colonial paradigms of history, sociology, architecture, and demography receded in the background.  Lahore’s transformation from a medieval city into a modern British city was phenomenal. This paper argues that the transformation which Lahore underwent is amorphous in nature and this amorphousness is an intricate historical process of collusion and collation of colonial and native versions of the city. Therefore, this amorphousness engrafted on Lahore’s urban spatiality resonating with history is an outcome of colonial gaze.

Keywords: Lahore, splendor, british, amorphousness, modern 

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