The hegemony of heritage : ritual and the record in stone
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What do we see when we look at a monument, and how do we come to see what we do? Far from the innocent ravages of time, the calculated aesthetics of the Indian temple today result from the confluence of religious performance, the politics of identity formation, the tension between neoliberal and socialist preservation mod- els, and the display, erasure, and fragmentation of the visual and material record. Architecture gives an illusion of eternal permanence only to reveal a state of per- petual flux both in meaning and in form. Through a thorough examination of two sites in southern Rājāsthan, we gain insight into a process of curating from the field whereby the erstwhile colonial institutions and socialist state compete with a variety of private initiatives for the right to construct the past and future alike. Across India, ancient sites are put back into worship, left untouched, or visited by throngs of tourists and pilgrims. A diachronic history of temples can lead us to examine how various actors claimed power and authority and shaped notions of sacred space and ritual praxis over time.
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