After four years of work and many unexpected twists and turns, I finally defended my dissertation on Muslim politics in North India last week and subsequently received the title of Dr. phil. (graded very good / magna cum laude). The dissertation consists of five refereed articles, a reprint, two published datasets and an overview essay that links them all together (the latter is published here):

That's it. I am leaving Lucknow. Well, not quite yet: I still have to get rid of a flat, and say good bye to all the good friends I met during the last 15 months. But in terms of fieldwork, and thus in terms of this blog, its time to wrap it up. Last week's map was a befitting ending, hard to trump. Anyway: it is too early to tell what I got from you, my dear field site. I will miss your Tehzeeb, hopefully soon forget some other facets of your culture - but certainly remember you for much more than powercuts. Over the next year and a half, I will try to write a book about you - till then, both of us have to be patient.

And while I transit back to Europe, this blog will see a series of posts on book publishing - since I did not only complete fieldwork, but also my first monograph, which is in press with Sage, New Delhi - and will reach Ram Advani's famed bookstore by end of the year, Inshallah...

After my first experimental population map of Lucknow I am now embarking on more serious business: today I will attempt to map political strongholds in town. Where are the firm support bases of the four major parties of Uttar Pradesh - Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Indian National Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?1 To me and many others (including the parties), this question became particularly interesting after the assembly elections earlier this year, in which the traditionally BJP-affine capital city almost wholly embraced SP candidates in a surprise landslide. Pockets of stability within this major sweep, so my contention, would surely signal some sort of stronghold. Let's see if we can find these pockets...

As a data basis for the following maps, I obtained the locations of each polling booth in Lucknow from the National Informatics Center and calculated the areas they serve using a simple Voronoi transformation (after some necessary data cleanup). I then meshed in booth-wise results for both the 2012 assembly elections and the 2009 parliamentary elections, obtained from the Chief Electoral Officer of UP. Finally, I added last week's river (in blue), my own home (red dot), and the MODIS built-up area polygon to beautify the map somewhat.

  • 1. I am only interested in the four major parties against each other; the following map does not show other candidates (though they may have gotten a sizeable voteshare).

Over the last weeks of heat-induced desk-work, I took a deeper look at some of the statistics and maps acquired over the last months. It has been a pain to get them, and I am still hunting for more - but I now have enough to get started. As a teaser, I thus got my act together and set TileMill in motion to tell you a first spatial story about Lucknow: where do people live (including me)? And where are all the women (and men)? This first map shows ward-wise population density based on 2001 census data1 (a larger version is available here):

  • 1. 2011 data is not available yet at that level of detail, and also maps on a slightly different set of wards post-delimitation; the latter is also true for 1991. I will post a diachronic perspective once I sorted these issues out

I always thought I were dependent on my high-tech equipment for fieldwork, but it turns out the low-tech is as important. Low-tech as in: running water and decent power supply. Both of which turned quite sketchy over the last days - forcing me to while away my time in the shady trees around Rifah-e-Aam, temporarily suspending thinking, not to speak of doing interviews or, God forbid, writing stuff. I can't even write blog posts, at least not about my topic. But I have plenty to say on other electricizing issues (does that expression exist in English? It does in German anyway). Here is my week's rant:

It all began when the summer heat turned above 45 degrees celsius. Reason enough for some thunder and lightning we thought - till we realized that the lightning occured between our AC outdoor unit and the metal balcony grill. Impressive, loud and bright - and, subsequently, hot within the flat and smoky outside. The electrician put in a new cable, fitted with tesa© tape, a high-tech German engineering product as he keenly pointed out. Just to be on the safe side, I later replaced the defunct tripping fuse as well - he rather opted to rely on his rubber-feet sandals and the many charms around his neck. Which could explain the short life expectancy of Indian electricians, and in turn the mediocre quality of service (and yes, I know this is a spurious circular argument - even in 45 degrees, I can think that much).