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Evaluating Equity and Inclusion in Historic Preservation in India

Thu, Apr 21, 2022    11:15am

India is a very old civilization with a rich cultural heritage. The formal practice of historic preservation, however, is a relatively recent phenomenon, established under the British Raj in the early twentieth century. Despite numerous theoretical and methodological advances the field has made since then, several structural and cultural challenges remain unresolved. The greatest of these, in my view, are the legacy of colonial-era practices and rising communalism and Hindu nationalism. The latter is making it more difficult to diversify the historical record and protect minority heritage. Meanwhile, the colonial-era framework, although to some extent repackaged to align with the needs of independent India, still does not reflect the broader movement towards social history in preservation. As a result, practice continues to favor high-style sites and those associated with dominant groups at the cost of all others, particularly Dalits, women, and sexual and gender minorities. This talk will consider examples and possible directions for progress.

Manish Chalana is an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington, with adjunct appointments in Architecture and Landscape Architecture in the College of Built Environments, and the South Asia Center in the Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS). His work engages urban planning through the lenses of historic preservation, international planning and development, and equity and social justice. Dr. Chalana’s work has appeared in journals ranging from the Journal of Architectural Education, Journal of Heritage Stewardship, Planning Perspectives, Journal of Planning History, Future Anterior and Journal of American Planning Association. He has published two co-edited volumes titled: Messy Urbanism: Understanding the “Other” Cities of Asia (with Hou; 2016; HKU Press), and Heritage Conservation in Postcolonial India: Approaches and Challenges (with Krishna; 2021; Routledge).

Free and open to the public.

Organized as part of the Preservation Lecture Series, an initiative of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia GSAPP.