Naresh Chhatwani, Social Relations and Architecture: Study of Sindhi Neighbourhoods in India, PhD., Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Institute of Infrastructure Technology Research and Management (Ahmedabad) 2021.
The exodus of Sindhis over India’s newly formed borders was a one of a kind moment in the social history of South Asia. Hindus lived as a minority population within the predominantly Muslim Sindh (presently located in Pakistan). When British India was divided in 1947 along the religious bases, Sindhi Hindus were forced into exile from their ancestral land. This thesis has presented an analysis of Sindhis’ histories and contemporary circumstances of habitation patterns across India. This research aims to look at the concept of home and neighbourhoods that Sindhis have; they try to reconstruct a feeling of home away from “home” and, in the process, project their own presence and social status through architecture and interior. This thesis argues that the form and location of the houses are indicators of the relationship of owners and the host societies. Additionally, it also concludes that aesthetics of the house and interior through conspicuous display conveys the owner’s cultural capital through which social relations between various groups in the society are constructed and contested. The framework implemented here is embedded in the broader theoretical underpinnings of the sociology of space, home and belonging, consumption, habitus, and capital. By analyzing both the Sindhi house and the Sindhi neighbourhood, multiple layers of social reality are explored to unearth what lies at the core of these relations. In the fieldwork, it was established that socio-economic conditions (of Sindhis) and its manifestation in housing result from their long standing social relations within the host societies. For a Sindhi businessman, wealth and power must be displayed for others through home building, interior, luxurious wedding receptions, and leisure. For a community like Sindhis, space becomes the means to signal their social status that is achieved rather than ascribed. Closely knit residential units and the religious and commercial places of everyday exchange create a sense of belonging and foster sociocultural exchange, both within the community and with other communities. These places also provide the markers of community identity within the city. In conclusion, the thesis has contributed to the scholarship on the Sindhi community, social relations, and negotiating an ever-evolving Sindhi identity through spatial manifestation.