Darjeeling occupies a special place in the South Asian imaginary. With its Himalayan vistas, lush tea gardens, and brisk mountain air, Darjeeling was the consummate colonial hill-station. The romance with the “queen of the hills” lives on, as thousands of tourists (domestic and international) annually flock to the hills to taste its world-renowned tea, soak up the colonial nostalgia, and glimpse mighty Mount Kanchenjunga. Darjeeling’s fame has now gone global and its legacy continues to fuel Hollywood and Bollywood fantasies. But this is only part of Darjeeling’s story.
Darjeeling Reconsidered provocatively rethinks Darjeeling’s legendary 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. The historical analyses break with hackneyed colonial accounts to provide alternative readings of systems of governance, labour, and migration that shaped Darjeeling. The ethnographic chapters present cutting-edge accounts of dynamics that define life in 21st century Darjeeling: among them the realpolitik of subnationalism; Fair Trade tea; indigenous struggle; gendered inequality; ecological transformation; and resource scarcity. Through these eye-opening perspectives, Darjeeling Reconsidered figures Darjeeling as a vital site for South Asian and Postcolonial Studies-and calls for a timely re-examination of the legend and hard-realities of this oft-romanticized region and its people. The book seeks a place on the shelves of postcolonial theorists, on the syllabi of undergraduate and graduate courses on South Asia, and in the rucksacks of intellectually curious visitors from all over the world to Darjeeling.