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. For more information, read on.
International Conference on Heritage Management Education and Practice: Exploring Connections across Disciplines and Stakeholders
28 – 31 July, 2017: Conference Report
Discourses and practices on heritage have broadened significantly in recent decades, leading towards a holistic understanding and new approaches in heritage management, than just mere documentation and preservation. We are at a promising juncture where the understanding ‘heritage’ is no longer confined to history or material or monuments or unique artifacts, but is equally about livelihoods, sustainability, social development, innovation, and other practices.
Opportunities for cross-disciplinary research and practice tools relevant to making sense of these rich and diverse ideas are on the rise. Even so, there is much to learn, something made possible only through dialogue, mutual understanding, and sharing the knowledge we gain across various contexts.
This conference was a platform for educational institutions on heritage studies and heritage management, organizations working in different heritage sectors, agencies and entrepreneurs supporting the cause of research and management in the field, academicians, government departments & urban local bodies concerned with heritage, individuals working on different aspects of heritage management, and interested students.
All abstracts received for the conference were blind reviewed by a scientific committee comprising of academicians and practitioners from around the world. Out of approximately 100 abstracts, 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
The authors presenting at this conference included academicians, researchers, professionals and students from different parts of India and around the world, including countries such as the USA, the UK, Portugal, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Graduating students also presented their theses at the conference.
The conference started with a welcome address by Professor Neel Kamal Chapagain introducing the conference and its context to delegates. Professor Chapagain noted that the conference was the Centre’s third major academic milestone, following the launch of the Masters programme in Heritage Management as the first, and the launch of the Journal of Heritage Management last year as the second. Mr. Debashish Nayak, Director of the Centre stated his wish that the academic programmes learn from Ahmedabad’s experience as a Unesco World Heritage City nominee.
In his inaugural address, Professor Pankaj Chandra, Vice-Chancellor, Ahmedabad University emphasized that the Centre has been active in achieving academic milestones and reminded the team to stay on the task. He also highlighted the city’s recently-awarded World Heritage City status, and pointed out that it represents an opportunity to build links between the Centre, the city and its heritage, and for graduates of the university’s Masters in Heritage Management programme to become part of the process.
Keynote speaker Professor Amareswar Galla (chief curator, Amaravathi Heritage Town, Andhra Pradesh; executive director, International Institute for the Inclusive Museum, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) advocated for deep and reflexive heritage education in India and said that the scale of the challenge in the country warranted many more heritage management programmes. He endorsed the evidence-based research approach, and thus, the need to decolonise some practices. The inaugural function concluded with a vote of thanks by the conference co-ordinator, 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 of the conference began with two parallel sessions on education and theory building in heritage management. In a session titled ‘Theorizing Heritage & Formulating Management Framework’, Michael J Kimball shared research on Heritage Place Building Theory, Heritage Impact Assessment, and the role of the sacred dimension in his work. Devashree Vyas of Mumbai spoke of her concerns for ways of dealing with heritage and professionals’ role.
On the subject of heritage management education, Indera Syahrul bin Mat Radzuan explored the training factors as incentive tools in safeguarding the cultural heritage of Malaysia’s traditional settlements. Mujtaba Ahsan and Shariar Raj shared their thoughts on introducing heritage conservation education on the undergraduate architecture curriculum in Bangladesh. Anita Rane-Kothare spoke about her semester course ‘Development of Heritage Management and Tourism in India’ at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and its role in creating heritage awareness. Ishita Shah of SRISHTI, Bengaluru, presented heritage management as a form of “practicing creative education” and “educating creative practices.” Madhumita Bhattacharya of Manipal University stressed the need to incorporate artisans and their knowledge in mainstream textile and fashion education, in order to preserve traditional textile techniques.
Poulomi Das, a museum consultant from Mumbai, interrogated the need for museology courses in India. Rishav Jain and Jay Thakkar of CEPT University made a presentation about redefining the educational perspective on crafts and heritage in the domain of interior architecture. Barsha Dutta, a graduate of Ahmedabad University’s Masters in Heritage Management programme, spoke of major reforms required in craft and skill education.
On the parallel theme of challenges in museum management, Batul Raaj Mehta, a museum professional brought up examples of various museums that represented the identities and voices of Indian museums. Leora Peres Pezarkar discussed the challenges of the City museum of Ahmedabad and the need for community participation to represent the city’s heritage in museums.
Later in the day, on the subject of heritage economics and livelihoods, Anshika Jain, a graduate of the Masters in Heritage Management at Ahmedabad University, discussed in detail the value chain of sheep wool craft in Kutch and the different stakeholders involved in the craft. Aditya Kushwaha talked about the resurgence of living heritage. Hemang Anglay and Akash Gaur shared their views on Gruh Udyog (cottage industry) as a community legacy. Shahul Ameen, Senior Lecturer, Ahmedabad University, discussed the challenges of, and a possible strategy for managing syncretic cultural heritage and local economies.
On the subject of policy, Carsten Hermann shared his research on developing assessment methods for historic places in Northern Europe to evaluate them in context of climate change risk and vulnerabilities. Sambhavi Joshi and Salka Khan discussed the Bhopal master plan regulations required for heritage revival in that city. Harshada Pawar and Sejal Gotad discussed the challenges and opportunities in the management of Mumbai Fort.
The third day mainly focused on the themes of intangible heritage and environment; and Cultural Landscapes Management. Shailja Parashar, a graduate of the Masters in Heritage Management programme at Ahmedabad University, presented empirical studies in crafts and development by taking the case of two craft organizations. Vijay Ramchandani, shared the concerns over language promotion in the case of the Sindhi language and the Indian Institute of Sindhology. Priyansi Tambat and Ketaki Joshi talked about rejuvenating the Tambat craft in Old Tambat Ali, Nashik by promoting craft entrepreneurship. Niharika Shah, director, Kanoria Arts Centre, Ahmedabad discussed curatorial modalities 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 an analysis of heritage in contemporary Hindi poems. Leora Pezarkar shared her research about the community heritage and identity of the Bene Israelis of western India. Stuti Mishra talked about the intangible heritage of the Navakalevara festival at Jagannath Puri Temple and its continuity.
Monica Esteves Reis of Portugal shared her work on preservation of India’s transcultural historical and artistic heritage. Rekha V Kumar talked about the impact of the changing cultural landscape of the wetlands of Kerala. Kalpana Chauhan presented detailed research into the ecosystem of heritage in Bundelkhand, and an integrated approach to its management. Balaji Venkatachary talked about the relationship between components and attributes of cultural landscapes in the case of Indian music and cultural landscapes. Prarthi Shah, a graduate of the Masters in Heritage Management programme at Ahmedabad University, gave a talk on the strategy of mixed nomination in order to connect 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. The panel of experts 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 acquiring this status; its attendant challenges and opportunities for urban local bodies; and citizen awareness and participation in Ahmedabad’s heritage activity.
Day four’s themes were built heritage management and historic urban landscapes. Amanda Chanaki Rajapakse discussed the living heritage of Galle fort, presenting her research on residents’ views on heritage values and cultural significance. Gayatri Nanda’s talk stressed the importance of understanding ‘people-place’ ties and its spatial mapping as an integral part of the heritage management process. Akshaya V and Aishwarya V presented a possible strategy for the sustenance of vernacular heritage through their work on the agraharams of Tamil Nadu. Arpita Shedbalkar used the case case of Hastha Shilpa heritage village in Manipal, Karnataka, to advocate for for restoration as a way of conserving heritage architecture. Bijal Mehta, faculty at Ahmedabad University, using her research on Ahmedabad spoke of the importance of residents’ awareness of and participation in process of heritage conservation. Purva Shah spoke of why it was necessary to revitalise Srinagar’s Aali Kadalmaharaj Ganj in order to reclaim the city’s “Shehr-I-Khas” status. Neeraja Desai Nautara talked about risks to colonial built heritage.
Nishant Upadhyay and Anjaneya Sharma presented their research on understanding and recreating historical landscapes through oral history, architectural and archival research with a study of Rajnagar, Bundelkhand. Anam Sami spoke of patterns and effects of urbanization in mountainous historic urban landscape of Chamba, Himachal Pradesh. Chirashree Thakkar, architect and graduate of Masters in Heritage Management discussed her strategy to reconnect the unique identity of the princely states of Gujarat with an inclusive heritage management plan for small, medium and big size states.
One of the last themes was that of participatory processes in heritage management. Siddhant Shah from Mumbai presented on the importance of inclusive ways to treat people with disabilities as stakeholders in cultural heritage, and discussed how to facilitate cultural experiences at spaces such as museums. Lakshmy Venkatesh of Sahapedia shared her views on the endangerment of archaeology and relevance of public engagement Suruchi Ranadive and Purva Shah talked of the importance of community participation in heritage management at Chandori, Maharashtra.
The conference’s concluding function included a plenary session featuring the highlights of the day’s technical sessions. An overall concluding plenary was held with student panellists, presenters, audience and Professor Amareswar Galla. The valedictory address was delivered by 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 the story of her academic and professional journey in India, which led to the establishment of the country’s first architectural conservation programme.
In his closing remarks, Professor Devanath Tirupati, Dean Amrut Mody School of Management, Ahmedabad University thanked the delegates for their participation and encouragement. He emphasized the importance of the conference continuing annually, and noted that further outreach into other disciplines, and with other stakeholders, remains necessary. The conference concluded with an appreciation of the staff and students of the CHM by Professor Neel Kamal Chapagain, the conference chair.
A pre-conference proceedings was available at the time of the conference, which included the abstracts of all presentations. There will be a post-conference proceedings in form of an edited volume, 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.