• Women Architects in India: Histories of Practice in Mumbai and Delhi
    Mary N. Woods
    Routledge, 2016
    Mary N. Woods

Shimul Javeri Kadri (SJK Architects), Leaf House, 2006–12, Ali Baug, India. Courtesy of the architects.

As the first study of women architects in modern India, this book reveals a history unknown not only in the West but also there. After independence, Nehru launched an ambitious program of modernization where architecture and female emancipation were central to nation building. Women architects (as well as their clients and builders) are examined at three pivotal moments: the independence struggle of the early twentieth century; the new nation-state after 1947; and the rise of neoliberal economies and identity politics beginning in 1991. Women designers from Mumbai and Delhi are featured because as seats of economic and political power these cities are centers for architectural education and practice. Out of choice or necessity these women found other ways of being an architect. Blurring boundaries between tradition and innovation, design and preservation, activism and professionalism, and mainstream and alternative, they enrich and complicate histories of modern architecture and practice.

Mary N. Woods, the first Michael A. McCarthy Professor of Architectural Theory at Cornell University, studies the built environments and design practices in the United States and India. Her books include: From Craft to Profession: Architectural Practice in Nineteenth-Century America (UC-Berkeley, 1999); Beyond the Architect's Eye: Photographs of the American Built Environment (Penn Press, 2014; 2009); and now Women Architects in India: Histories of Practice in Mumbai and Delhi (Routledge, 2016). The latter received support from the Graham Foundation, Cornell University, Fulbright Foundation, American Institute of Indian Studies, and American Council of Learned Societies. In 2015 Woods held fellowships at the Center for Creative Photography and the Canadian Centre for Architecture to research urban ruins in shrinking and exploding cities. Woods and filmmaker Vani Subramanian's documentary on Indian cinema halls as architectures of migration and immigration won a major grant from the Clarence Stein Institute for 2015–17.