"A generation ago, long before Modi (and the BJP) was in power, right-wing Hindu nationalist leaders in Maharashtra state renamed Bombay as Mumbai — a nod to the city’s patron goddess Mumbadevi. Other cities followed: Madras became Chennai; Calcutta, Kolkata; Bangalore, Bengaluru. All the changes were a rejection of Anglicized names that came into use during British colonial rule. In the most recent wave of name changes, it’s not about erasing colonial monikers. It’s about erasing Muslim ones."
Indian officials have been altering toponyms to be more Hinducentric; this is a results of growing Hindu nationalism as an important element of modern Indian politics. In another thematically similar, but regionally distinct example, we can see how place names matter in American cities. When large corporations (like Google or Amazon) move in to a city, the corporations might try to rename the neighborhoods and, in a sense, rebrand the place.
Both examples show that the cultural landscape, including the names on them, are not just a passive reflection of the cultures that have shaped these places; they manifest the power dynamics of competing cultural groups seeking to assert their vision of place and culture to be physically manifested in public spaces.
GeoEd Tags: culture, political, place, toponyms, India, South Asia, Hinduism, historical.
Scoop.it Tags: culture, political, place, toponyms, India, South Asia, Hinduism, historical.