3rd International Conference on Heritage Management Education and Practice started on 6th December 2019 and concluded on 8th December 2019. The theme of the Conference was ‘Ensuring Fair Access and Inclusion in Heritage Management Processes.’ This year, the conference participants were from Malaysia, South Korea, USA, Russia and various parts of India. During the three day conference, several aspects of physical, social and cognitive access and inclusion at different levels of heritage management practices were discussed. The Conference also had a series of side events featuring an Expo of social entrepreneurs, as well as cultural activities and workshops coordinated by Sharitage - the Heritage Club of Ahmedabad University.
Professor Neel Kamal Chapagain, the Conference Chair welcomed the delegates; and introduced the theme of the conference. He briefly recalled the core idea of the annual conference series as an academic platform to promote discourses on heritage management connecting both to the education and professional practice; and concluded his presentation with a few crucial questions on this year’s theme like - By protecting a monument are we depriving its everyday users of their daily rituals? In our quest for 'Outstanding Universal Value', are we ignoring everyday local values? While preparing historic heritage are we marginalising the future heritage? and so on.
The inaugural address was delivered by Professor Pankaj Chandra, Vice Chancellor of Ahmedabad University. He stressed upon the role of heritage to bring societies and its people together. He explained how Ahmedabad University is contributing to society by providing the education of applied sciences coupled with liberal arts and humanities.
Professor Yahaya Ahmed, Dean, Department of Built Environment, University of Malaya and Director of ASEAN University network on Accessibility in Educational Campuses, and a renowned heritage management expert in Southeast Asia, delivered the first keynote lecture. He has been closely involved in the nomination in Malacca Georgetown serial nomination and Ahmedabad as a world heritage site. He has his Ahmedabad connection as the International Advisor to the Nomination Dossier for the Walled City World Heritage Site. He talked to participants on a viewpoint point of ‘Balancing accessibility and conservation’ while discussing the physical accessibility to heritage monuments and sites. He laid stress on managing authenticity and integrity in conservation and advocated international policies for helping people with disabilities and their accessibility to heritage sites. He also discussed the need for Conservation, Managing threat (14 factors affecting heritage properties in Asia and Pacific countries), Common issues on management of PWDs in ASEAN and Technology in heritage management.
Ms Jaya Jaitley, Founder of Dastkari Hath Samiti (Arts & Crafts Market), which enables rural artisans of traditional Indian crafts to gain confidence in the marketplace through many innovative strategies, delivered the second keynote lecture. Ms Jaitley highlighted craft as a livelihood as well as craft as heritage. With vivid examples and reflections from her own journey of working with the craft sector, she narrated the success stories of her initiatives.
Following the inaugural session, the first plenary session had Professor Ashoke Chatterjee, Advisor to the Centre for Heritage Management, Ahmedabad University and Ms Gurmeet Sangh Rai, Founder and Director of Cultural Resources Conservation Initiative shared their experiences and reflections on the issues of Inclusion and Access in Heritage Management. While Professor Chatterjee highlighted the need to see heritage discourse as a part of global discourses, including the sustainable development goals, Ms Rai highlighted the need of ‘rights-based approaches’ particularly referring to ICOMOS’ international working group on Rights-based approach, that she was a part of. The afternoon of the first day had selected presentations from the pool of submitted abstracts, and the day concluded with a cultural evening organised by the Centre students.
The second day began with a plenary session featuring a group of researchers from the University of Northern Colorado, USA sharing their research in India, and perspectives from the Archaeological Survey of India, as shared by Mr Janhwij Sharma, the Joint Director General of Conservation and World Heritage. The morning session was followed by a series of presentations as well as a poster session. In the evening, various workshops were organised at the Chauraha and a cultural event hosting the famous Boul Singer- Sudipto Mridha was also hosted.
The third day featured Institutional Perspectives and Initiatives. The first session reflected on the issue of inclusion and access in the heritage related education, in which Professor Neel Kamal Chapagain shared key initiatives at Ahmedabad University as well as updated the audience on the developments in the Asia Pacific region - particularly the two university networks on heritage management education, i.e. Asian Academy of Heritage Management (AAHM) and Asia Pacific Higher Education Network for Intangible Cultural Heritage (APHEN-ICH). Professor Chapagain is a board member in both the networks. Dr Jigna Desai from CEPT University shared insights from her own doctoral work as well as her teaching approaches at CEPT and introduced the Centre for Conservation Studies at CEPT. Dr Bhawna Bali from TERI - SAS shared her own programme and introduced the Himalayan University Consortium, particularly its newly formed Mountain Tourism and Cultural Heritage thematic group. Mr Anuranjan Roy introduced the activities at UNESCO Category 2 Centre at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.
The second special session featured experiences and activities undertaken by various institutes including UNESCO New Delhi, Abhikram Architects, Bangla Natak, National Laboratory for Conservation Research, and International Centre for Information and Networking for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICHCAP). In the afternoon, a special session on Ahmedabad Heritage was organised, which kept the tradition of the conference alive, in which it provides a special platform to the city to discuss its local heritage issues amidst the global audience that gathers for the conference.
A unique expo and networking space - named Chauraha, was also organised parallelly, in which social entrepreneurs and organisations showcased their works, while Sharitage - the Heritage Club of Ahmedabad University coordinated the hands-on workshops.