Heritage, law and religion: a colonial history of historic preservation in India (Indra Sengupta)

Abstract: The term ‘heritage’ in the way in which we in modern times understand material and immaterial remains form the past has been largely defined by the UNESCO’s discourse on world heritage and its vast project of recognising world heritage sites (Glendinning 2013, Jokilehto 2009). It was in use in most countries of Western Europe by the middle of the nineteenth century. But protection of old, historic buildings and structures, commonly referred to as built heritage, by means of laws and techniques that arose from a modern understanding of the past, only started in the aftermath of the French Revolution, grew alongside the rise of nation-states in Europe and culminated in national laws and international conventions and charters only by the middle of the twentieth century (Swenson 2013). Colonised societies such as India took a different, more complicated path to heritage preservation, as the concept and practice of heritage were mediated by the experience of colonialism and anti-colonial nationalism. This paper will examine the way in which the imperatives of colonial rule and colonial laws in the early twentieth century set about defining heritage and the complicated relationship between state, communities and historic buildings that emerged as a result. I look at the particular problem that affected religious buildings that were in use to examine how colonial ideas of India’s history and heritage and colonial state policy of preserving India’s rich historic buildings by means of state intervention and legislation were often severely tested by existing social realities.


摘要:我们在现代社会理解来自过去的物质与非物质遗存这种方式中,“遗产”这个术语被联合国教科文组织在很大程度上被界定在关于世界遗产的论述和承认世界遗产的大型项目这样的范围内(Glendinning 2013, Jokilehto 2009)。到了十九世纪中叶,西欧大多数国家都在使用这个术语。但是,人们通过法律和技术(这也是基于人们在对“过去”有了现代式理解才产生的)对古老的历史建筑和构造(通常称为建造遗产)进行保护,这种行动的出现也是法国大革命的后果,它伴随着欧洲民族国家的崛起而成长,并在二十世纪中叶,随着大量国家法律的颁布和国际公约和宪章的签订而达到顶峰(Swenson 2013)。在印度这样的殖民化社会,由于遗产的概念和实践受到殖民主义和反殖民的民族主义经验的协调,因而采取了不同的、更为复杂的途径进行遗产保护。此报告将探讨二十世纪初期殖民统治和殖民法律的要求如何界定“遗产”这个概念,以及由此产生的国家、社群和历史建筑之间的复杂关系。 通过观察影响宗教建筑的特定问题,这些问题被用来研究殖民时代的印度历史和遗产观念,我还会探讨通过国家干预和立法保护印度丰富的历史建筑的殖民国家政策往往受到现有社会现实的严重考验这个题目。

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