Built between 1911 and 1931 to serve as the new capital of Britain's Indian empire, New Delhi symbolically represented a modern colonial vision for British rule in India. This article examines the enclosure of lands and the removal of Indian communities for the building of New Delhi and explores the manner in which New Delhi's abstract imperial vision was played out against and made possible by real people on the ground. In particular, it focuses on the colonial mechanisms of domination and subordination inscribed in New Delhi at its most basic level—namely, the land on which the city itself was built. By examining the processes of New Delhi's land enclosures, this article sheds light on the growing disconnect between Britain's new vision of empire and the potentially harsh consequences of its free market principles in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth.

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