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International Conference on Heritage Management Education and Practice: Exploring Connections across Disciplines and Stakeholders

International Conference on Heritage Management Education and Practice: Exploring Connections across Disciplines and Stakeholders
July 28, 2017 Ahmedabad University Conference

International Conference on Heritage Management Education and Practice: Exploring Connections across Disciplines and Stakeholders
28 – 31 July, 2017

The Centre for Heritage Management at Ahmedabad University organised the first edition of its annual international heritage management conference series, marking the graduation of its first batch of students of Masters of Management Studies – Heritage Management, as well as welcoming a new group of students.

The Context
The discourses and practices on ‘heritage’ are significantly broadened in recent decades, leading towards the holistic understanding of heritage idea and the emerging approaches of heritage management, than just the mere documentation and preservation of heritage. We are at a promising juncture where heritage is no longer confined only to history or material or monuments or unique artifacts, but it is equally about livelihoods, sustainability, social development, innovation, and so on. There is furthermore opportunities of cross-disciplinary research and practice tools that may be relevant to making sense of rich and diverse heritage that we have. Yet, there are much more that we have to learn and master, which is possible only through dialogues, discussion, debates, and sharing of lessons from different contexts.

The conference was a good platform for educational institutions on heritage studies and heritage management, organizations working on different heritage sectors, agencies supporting the cause of heritage research and management, heritage related entrepreneurs, academicians and researchers concerned with the field of heritage, students with interest in heritage, individuals working in different capacities in the heritage sector and government departments & urban local bodies dealing with heritage in their frameworks.

All the abstracts received for the conference were blind reviewed by the scientific committee comprising of academicians and practitioners from around the world. Out of around 100 abstracts received, around 55 were selected to be presented in the conference under the following thematic sessions:
•    Heritage Management Education
•    Theorizing Heritage & Formulating Management Frameworks
•    Heritage Economics & Livelihood
•    Challenges in the Museums Management
•    Intangible Heritage: Crafts, Literature & Cinema
•    Environment & Cultural Landscapes Management
•    Historic Urban Landscapes Management
•    Built and Urban Heritage Management
•    Participatory Processes in Heritage Management
•    Policies

The authors presenting at this conference included academicians, researchers, professionals and students from different parts of the country and abroad – USA, UK, Portugal, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The graduating students also presented their theses under relevant themes.

The conference started with the welcome address by Professor Neel Kamal Chapagain. Introducing the conference and its context to the delegates, he positioned the conference as third academic milestone for the Centre, following the launch of the Masters programme in Heritage Management as first, and the launch of the Journal of Heritage Management last year as the second. Mr. Debashish Nayak, Director of the Centre wished that the academic programmes also learn from Ahmedabad’s experience of going through the World Heritage nomination.  

In his inaugural address, Professor Pankaj Chandra, Vice-Chancellor, Ahmedabad University emphasized that the Centre has been active in achieving these academic milestones and reminded the team to stay on the task. He also highlighted that getting the tag of World Heritage City is an opportunity to build linkages between various aspects of the city and its heritage; and that the graduates of University’s Master in Heritage Management programme can be part of that process.

The keynote speaker Professor Amareswar Galla (Chief Curator, Amaravathi Heritage Town, AP Executive Director, International Institute for Inclusive Museum, Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) advocated for a deep and reflexive heritage education in India and shared the need of more such heritage management programmes looking at the scale of the issue in country. He also endorsed the evidence-based research approach and thus the need of decolonizing of some practices. He applauded the academic programme in Heritage Management and emphasized that there should be more of such interdisciplinary programmes in India. The inaugural function concluded with a vote of thanks by the Conference Coordiantor, Mr. Vijay Ramchandani, Senior Executive for academic supports and research projects at the Centre, who is also a graduate of the Masters in Heritage Management programme.

The second day began with two parallel sessions featuring the themes of education and theory building in heritage management. In the session titled ‘Theorizing Heritage & Formulating Management Framework’,  Michael J Kimball of USA shared his research on Heritage Place Building Theory, Heritage Impact Assessment, and the role of the sacred dimension, and Devashree Vyas of Mumbai shared her concerns for ways of dealing with heritage and professionals’ role. In the theme of Heritage Management Education, Indera Syahrul Mat Radzuan explored the training factors as incentive tools in safeguarding cultural heritage of Malaysian traditional settlements; Mujtaba Ahsan and Shariar Raj shared their thoughts on introducing the heritage conservation education in undergraduate architecture curriculum in Bangladesh; Anita Rane-Kothare shared the details of her semester course ‘Development of Heritage Management and Tourism in India’ at St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous ) Mumbai and its role in Creating Heritage Awareness; Ishita Shah of SRISHTI, Bangalore presented Heritage Management as Practicing Creative Education and Educating Creative Practices; and Madhumita Bhattacharya of Manipal University stressed the need of incorporating the artisans in the mainstream textile and fashion education in order to preserve the heritage of traditional textile techniques.

Poulomi Das, a museum consultant from Mumbai questioned the need of museology courses in India. While Rishav Jain and Jay Thakkar of CEPT University in their presentation stressed the need of redefining the educational perspective on Crafts and Heritage in Interior Architecture domain, Barsha Dutta, graduate of Masters in Heritage Management programme of Ahmedabad University specifically spoke about the major reforms required in the craft and skill education.

In the parallel theme of Challenges in the Museums Management, Batul Raaj Mehta, a museum professional giving the examples of various museums presented the identities and voices of Indian Museums; Leora Peres Pezarkar discussed the challenges of City Museum of Ahmedabad and the need for community participation to represent city’s heritage in museum.

Later in the day under the theme of Heritage economics and livelihoods, Anshika Jain, another graduate of the Masters in Heritage Management at Ahmedabad University, discussed in detail the value chain of sheep wool craft in Kachchh through the lens of different stakeholders involved; Aditya Kushwaha talked about resurgence of living heritage; Hemang Anglay and Akash Gaur shared their views on Gruh Udyog (cottage industry) as legacy of a community;  Shahul Ameen, Senior Lecturer, Ahmedabad University, challenges and possible strategy of managing syncretic cultural heritage and local economy.

In the theme of Policies, Carsten Hermann of UK shared his research on developing assessment methods for historic places of Northen Europe to evaluate them in context of climate change risk and vulnerabilities; Sambhavi Joshi and Salka Khan discussed the Bhopal master plan regulations needed for revival of heritage; Harshada Pawar and Sejal Gotad discussed the challenges and opportunities in management of Mumbai Fort.

The third day mainly focused on the themes of Intangible heritage and Environment & Cultural Landscapes Management. Shailja Parashar, graduate of Masters in Heritage Management at Ahmedabad University, presented the empirical studies of Crafts and Development by taking the case of two craft organizations; Vijay Ramchandani, also the graduate of Ahmedabad University shared the  concerns of language promotion with case of Sindhi language and Indian Institute of Sindhology; Priyansi Tambat and Ketaki Joshi talked about Rejuvenating Tambat Craft in Old Tambat Ali, Nashik by promoting craft entrepreneurship; Niharika Shah, director, Kanoria Arts Centre, Ahmedabad discussed the curatorial modality with reference to traditional craft; Paroma Sadhana presented the contours of cinema theatres and Bombay city; Piyush Pandya, Project Manager, Centre for Heritage Management presented the analysis of heritage in contemporary Hindi poems; Leora Pezarkar shared her research about the community heritage and identity of Bene Israelis; Stuti Mishra talked about the intangible heritage of Navakalevara festival at Jagannath Puri Temple and its continuity.

Monica Esteves Reis of Portugal shared her work on Preservation of the Transcultural Historical and Artistic Heritage of India; Rekha V Kumar shared the impacts of changing cultural landscape of wetlands of Kerala; Kalpana Chauhan shared in detail the Ecosystem of Heritage of Bundelkhand and an integrated approach towards its management. Balaji Venkatachary talked about the relationship between component and attribute of cultural landscapes with the case of Indian music and cultural landscapes; Prarthi Shah, graduate of Masters in Heritage Management at Ahmedabad University presented the strategy of mixed nomination to connect the natural and cultural criteria in World Heritage Management with the case of Khangchendzonga National Park.

Each day ended with a plenary session where the session chairs presented the summary of all the parallel presentations and opened the floor for further discussions. On day two, a special plenary was organized to discuss the UNESCO World Heritage City Nomination of Ahmedabad was discussed. The experts panel included Professor Amareswar Galla, Rohit Jigyasu, President ICOMOS India, Ashoke Chatterjee, Advisor, Centre for Heritage Management, Ahmedabad University, Debashish Nayak, Director, Centre for Heritage Management, Ahmedabad University and Mr. PKV Nair, Deputy General Manager, Heritage Cell, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The discussion focused on the process of getting the coveted tag, challenges and opportunities for the urban local body, awareness among and participation of citizens of Ahmedabad in truly making it a World Heritage City

Day four had the themes of Built Heritage Management and Historic Urban Landscapes. Amanda Chanaki Rajapakse of Sri Lanka through her research explored the Living Heritage of Galle Fort with Residents’ Views on Heritage Values and Cultural Significance; Gayatri Nanda of Bhopal stressed the importance of understanding ‘people-place’ ties and its spatial mapping as an integral part of heritage management process; Akshaya V and Aishwarya V presented a possible strategy for the Sustenance of Vernacular Heritage - Agraharams of Tamil Nadu; Arpita Shedbalkar, with case of Hastha Shilpa Hertiage village of Manipal advocated for restoration as a way of conserving heritage architecture. Bijal Mehta, faculty at Ahmedabad University, taking the case of Ahmedabad, spoke about the importance of awareness among and participation of residents in process of heritage conservation; Purva Shah shared the need of revitalization of Aali Kadalmaharaj Ganj area for reclaiming the glory of Shehr-I-Khas, Srinagar; Neeraja Desai Nautara talked about the colonial built heritage at risk.

Nishant Upadhyay and Anjaneya Sharma presented their research on understanding and recreating historical landscapes through oral history, architectural and archival research with the case of Rajnagar, Bundelkhand; Anam Sami spoke about patterns and effects of urbanization in mountainous historic urban landscape of Chamba; Chirashree Thakkar, Architect and graduate of Masters in Heritage Management shared her strategy of reconnecting the unique identity of the princely states of Gujarat in preparing a typical inclusive heritage management plan for small, medium and big size states.

One of the last themes was Participatory Processes in Heritage Management where Siddhant Shah from Mumbai presented a very important issue of inclusion of ‘differently-abled’ as stakeholders and ways of facilitating their experience of cultural heritage at spaces like museums; Lakshmy Venkatesh of Sahapedia shared her views on endangerment of archaeology and relevance of public engagement; and Suruchi Ranadive and Purva Shah talked about importance of community participation in heritage management at Chandori.

The conference concluding function included the plenary session featuring the highlights of the technical sessions on that day. Then, an overall concluding plenary was held in which the panelists were students (representatives from incoming batch, running batch and graduating batch of Masters programme students), presenters, audience and Professor Amareswar Galla. The valedictory session followed the plenary, with  the valedictory address by Prof. Nalini Thakur, retired Professor, School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. Her topic of address was ‘The holistic and integrated model for heritage protection and management realised for imparting of conservation education in the Indian context.’ Professor Thakur shared her academic and professional journey in India leading to the establishment of the first Architectural Conservation Programme and holistic approaches to heritage conservation.

In his closing remarks, Professor Devanath Tirupati, Dean Amrut Mody School of Management, Ahmedabad University thanked the delegates for participating and appreciated such encouragement. He emphasized that the conference should be continued every year, and that the outreach needed to be further into many other disciplines and stakeholders. The conference concluded with an appreciation to the CHM staff and students by Professor Neel Kamal Chapagain, the conference chair; who emphasized that the conference could not have been possible without the ownership and active involvement of students of the Masters programme in Heritage Management.  

A pre-conference proceedings was available at the time of the conference, which included all the abstracts of presentations. There will be a post-conference proceedings in form of an edited volume which will feature the outcomes of different thematic sessions as well as full papers submitted by the presenters. The theme and dates for the next edition of the conference will be announced sometime in September/October 2017.