Open Defense of Thesis by Ms. Krupa Rajangam on 'Rethinking UNESCO World Heritage Conservation-Management: Negotiations with Everyday Heritage Governance at Hampi, India'
National Institute of Advanced Studies
Indian Institute of Science Campus
OPEN DEFENSE OF THESIS
Title: Rethinking UNESCO World Heritage Conservation-Management:
Candidate: Ms. Krupa Rajangam
School of Humanities
Advisor: Prof. Sharada Srinivasan
Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Time: 11:00 am
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I commenced the study from the vantage of community-engaged practice seeking to understand if dissonance was inevitable when trajectories of heritage intersected with peoples’ lives. I proposed to observe the nature of interactions between different actors (experts, enthusiasts, officials, resident communities) at Hampi World Heritage Site, India over routine site conservation-management and address the questions: what are the positions of resident communities about the cultural heritage site in their midst that has impacted or will impact their lives at some point? Do they value the cultural heritage site? How do they value it? If not, what do they value? Following deep immersion in the field (over 16 months) I recognized the simplistic nature of the framing above. Fieldwork and analyses shaped the study as a heritage ethnography that problematises the everyday consequences of heritage and its conservation as material practice. Through the thesis I trace how heritage governs place Hampi, including its resident communities, rather than the site’s official heritage ascription being in need of participatory governance that is enabled by community engagement and local development. I then foreground both the nature of and negotiations with the everyday heritage regime instituted on site, subsequent to its designation as UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with its mechanisms of governance by addressing the questions: What does the everyday form of the regime look like? Who does the governing? Who is being governed and how? What are its consequences and finally, what is the role of practice in such governance. I argue that the regime is a bureaucracy of care (not of apathy as popularly supposed) that spatially governs place Hampi through the mechanism of nationalism, and its resident communities (social governance) through the mechanism of developmental-ism. I further argue that it is care that proves to be alienating for resident communities, resulting in different forms of displacement. I simultaneously foreground the (unintended) role of customary conservation mechanisms in enabling the regime, whose consequences are contrary to the aims of a largely ethical, reflexive practice, namely, democratising processes of heritage conservation-management. By presenting a grounded understanding of the dynamics of heritage practice and its consequences, through a heritage agnostic approach, l aim to push the boundaries of critical conservation studies.
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