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Whose Heritage? Archaeology and Identity in India

Hole, Brian; (2019) Whose Heritage? Archaeology and Identity in India. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis investigates the role of World Heritage sites and archaeology in shaping identities and understandings of the past in India. In particular as the Indian past is increasingly contested, it is contended that archaeology has an important role to play in ensuring that the public are able to critically navigate the issues. The focus encompasses both the broader public and the local communities and draws on public archaeology and identity and subaltern theories in order to consider their perspectives. This begins with a survey of the complex diversity of Indian society and its multiple levels of identity, then charts the expansion of archaeology from indigenous roots through the colonial period to the post-independence era, with particular attention paid to the co-option of the discipline by nationalist and communal movements, and to the development of relevant heritage legislation. Employing a comparative case study methodology, 600 visitors and 60 local residents were interviewed at three World Heritage sites: The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka and The Buddhist Monuments of Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, and Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park in Gujarat. The study found that visitors do relate to World Heritage sites in regard to identity, with communal factors playing a clear role, while the sociohistorical background of local residents was a factor in how they related. The way in which visitors learned from the sites was found to correlate strongly with their respective religions, and to depend on the interpretive information provided, while the local communities were not well informed. Visitor appreciation of archaeology was most correlated with educational level and the visibility of excavations, while local communities saw little benefit and generally felt restricted by it. In almost all aspects of the study communal tensions at Champaner- Pavagadh were seen to significantly influence the results, underlining the potential social and political importance of archaeology.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Whose Heritage? Archaeology and Identity in India
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10066447
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