From Multi-Religious Sites to Mono-Religious Monuments in South Asia

The Colonial Legacy of Heritage Management

Authored by: imanshu Prabha Ray

Routledge Handbook of Heritage in Asia

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415600453
eBook ISBN: 9780203156001
Adobe ISBN: 9781136582042


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The 1972 UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage, also known as the World Heritage Convention, aims to identify heritage sites of ‘outstanding universal value’ for preservation as a part of the heritage of mankind as a whole (Labadi 2007: 149). It is often argued that the criteria used for assessing ‘outstanding universal value of sites’ are based on European conceptions of linear history and chronology and hence, it is no surprise that a majority of sites on the World Heritage List are located in Europe (Labadi 2007). Of the 936 World Heritage sites, only twenty-eight are in India, of which twenty-three are cultural and five are natural properties. 1 Implicit in the western construction of history is the search for origins and ideas of continuity, which reaffirm collective national identities. State-centred histories acquire centrality and the past is discussed as a linear progression of Empires or States. Lost in this process are parallel narratives and multi-vocality that are encapsulated within the monument’s multicultural past.

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