Department or Program

International Relations

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Nikhil Rao


Since independence in 1947, India has seen the creation of ambitious new postcolonial cities and rural development projects throughout. Underscoring many of these rural and urban planning projects was a new 20th-century understanding of the built environment as being connected to a nation’s society, economy and politics. The redevelopment of India’s built environment was part of a larger utopian project of changing India’s condition of underdevelopment; a means of broadcasting that Nehruvian assumption of nationhood outwards. There were two projects in particular that were pioneers of their time. The first is the redevelopment of the rural agricultural villages of Uttar Pradesh. The second is creation of the new capital city of northern India, Chandigarh. Both projects were a means to move forward from India’s past so often associated with its “backwardness”, and assert itself, in the most physical and obvious way, as a modern nation-state to its citizens and to the greater international community.