David Boyk

David Boyk

About Me
Research and Writing
Contact Me


Research and Writing
Dusty books

My forthcoming book, Provincial Urbanity: Intellectuals and the Hinterland in Colonial India, examines Patna, a city in the north Indian region of Bihar. Patna began the nineteenth century as an important and populous city, but ended it as one of the many provincial towns dotting northern India. At least, this was how the city appeared from places like the colonial capital of Calcutta; today, it is still widely seen by people in big cities as provincial and “backward.” Provincial Urbanity shows the intimate connection between Patna’s provinciality and its urbanity, and documents how a sophisticated urban world came to be dismissed as merely part of the mofussil, or hinterland. Despite Patna’s real decline, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it continued to nurture a vibrant intellectual culture, one that looked not toward the imperial metropolis but instead tied together the older cities of the north Indian plains.

I am also currently working on Zer o Zabar: Urdu Literacy Through Hindi, an open-access textbook coauthored with Daniel Majchrowicz, and on a translation of stories by Sa‘adat Hasan Manto.

My scholarly publications include:

“Fatima Begum: An Indian Haji Observes Her Fellow Pilgrims” and “Mehr al-Nisa: An Indian Nurse in Ohio,” in Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Daniel Majchrowicz, and Sunil Sharma, eds., Three Centuries of Travel Writing by Muslim Women (Indiana University Press, 2022)

Nationality and Fashionality: Hats, Lawyers and Other Important Things to Remember,” South Asia 43, no. 5 (October 2020), reprinted in Literary Sentiments in the Vernacular: Gender and Genre in Modern South Asia, ed. Charu Gupta et al. (Routledge, 2021)

Bound for Home: Books and Community in a Bihari Qasba,” South Asia 43, no. 3 (June 2020)

Unpacking the Library” (coauthored with Andrew Amstutz and C. Ryan Perkins), South Asia 43, no. 3 (June 2020)

Collaborative Wit: Provincial Publics in Colonial North India,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 38, no. 1 (May 2018)

My writing for the public includes:

अंजुमनुल इस्लाह: जब एक क़स्बे में उर्दू को सहेजने की कोशिश हुई,” The Wire Hindi, July 2, 2020

قصہ 1899 کے ایک مشرقی کتب خانہ کا,” The Wire Urdu, June 25, 2020

Home in the Hinterland,” The Los Angeles Review of Books, October 2014

A Lettered Life,” The Caravan, August 2012

Calcutta in 20 Hours,” Kosovo 2.0, May 2012