In this anthropological history, Mary E. Hancock examines the politics of public memory in the southern Indian city of Chennai. Once a colonial port, Chennai is now poised to become a center for India's "new economy" of information technology, export processing, and back-office services. State and local governments promote tourism and a heritage-conscious cityscape to make Chennai a recognizable "brand" among investment and travel destinations.
Using a range of textual, visual, architectural, and ethnographic sources, Hancock grapples with the question of how people in Chennai remember and represent their past, considering the political and economic contexts and implications of those memory practices. Working from specific sites, including a historic district created around an ancient Hindu temple, a living history museum, neo-traditional and vernacular architecture, and political memorials, Hancock examines the spatialization of memory under the conditions of neoliberalism.