This review compares The Museum of Modern Art's exhibition “The Project of Independence: Architectures of Decolonization in South Asia, 1947-1985” (2022) to Farhan Karim's Of Greater Dignity Than Riches: Austerity and Housing Design in India (2019). These two examples’ distinct approaches to architecture and design in twentieth-century South Asia are conditioned by their respective formats and scopes. Both the exhibition and the book draw attention to the ideas, ambitions, and aspirations undergirding architecture and design in the region, and as expressed by agents including architects, designers, bureaucrats, construction workers, intellectuals, and critics. They do so, however, towards variant critical ends that are juxtaposed and compared in this review. The final portion of this review discusses how questions of architectural and design production and conception, central towards understanding the intellectual contributions of architects, designers, and their collaborators, stand enhanced through a focus on issues of representation that also make their way into historical archives, and as such might be critically enfolded within historical narratives.

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