First-year students of Masters in Heritage Management completed their heritage field-immersion programme right after the Diwali break at Jagammanpur in Uttar Pradesh. This was part of a mandatory week long field-immersion programme which encourages them to connect the learning of the first semester – particularly heritage discourses, community connections, economics and management challenges in broader aspects of heritage management in a given context. The immersion programme takes place in a new context every year, and students, as well as faculty, live in the given context, engage with community to understand what could heritage mean in the given context, how it could be documented and perhaps managed, and more importantly to understand how the idea of heritage may play an enabling role in the broader social and environmental development of the given context (mostly a rural area somewhere in India).
This year’s site was of Jagammanpur which is a village in Uttar Pradesh and has a palace with its fortification still extant as a visible heritage structure. The palace was the subject of a Masters thesis completed in 2017, by Kalpana Chauhan (2015-17 graduate of the programme) in which she was exploring heritage values and possible management strategies for her own family property? in Jagammanpur. The immersion programme aimed to understand the nuances between the recognised heritage (of that of the palace) and ignored aspects of the society and landscape in the given context. Through the week-long immersion, students are expected to understand the nuances of historical memories, social practices, institutional jurisdictions and socio-cultural dynamics that shape potential heritage discourses in the context, because any heritage project may have to deal with many of such local nuances. This year’s immersion dwelled in the dynamics between a royal heritage and community perceptions, as well as finding synergies between community practices and forgotten royal patronage on various aspects of society such as festivals, social services and community identity.