Darjeeling Reconsidered: Histories, Politics, Environments
Author: Townsend Middleton and Sara Shneiderman
Darjeeling occupies a special place in the South Asian imaginary with its Himalayan vistas, lush tea gardens, and brisk mountain air. Thousands of tourists, domestic and international, annually flock to the hills to taste their world-renowned tea and soak up the colonial nostalgia. Darjeeling Reconsidered rethinks Darjeeling’s status in the postcolonial imagination. Mobilizing diverse disciplinary approaches from the social sciences and humanities, this definitive collection of essays sheds fresh light on the region’s past and offers critical insight into the issues facing its people today. While the historical analyses provide alternative readings of the systems of governance, labour, and migration that shaped Darjeeling, the ethnographic chapters present accounts of dynamics that define life in twenty-first century Darjeeling, including the Gorkhaland Movement, Fair Trade tea, indigenous and subnationalist struggle, gendered inequality, ecological transformation, and resource scarcity. The volume figures Darjeeling as a vital site for South Asian and postcolonial studies and calls for a timely reexamination of the legend and hard realities of this oft-romanticized region.