Afterlives of Monuments
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Generously sponsored by the British Academy, the Nehru Centre, the University of the Arts London and TrAIN, this conference will address how monuments have been reinvented and transformed for a succession of presents, for changing audiences and diverse communities. As one of our participants identifies, ‘the memorial can only survive through reinvention’. The conference is particularly timely. Current events as well as the reassessment of past histories are putting pressure on historic and recent monuments; relocated replicas are highly controversial. Architecture, sculpture, popular culture – monuments are multi-dimensional and multi-media, and speakers are from anthropology, art history, media studies, architecture, the museum world, and contemporary artistic practice. The period considered is from 1850s to the present. Viewing monuments as performative and richly subject to change and contestation, the conference will interrogate the prevailing ‘memory model’, which connects monuments and memorials primarily to memory. The larger purpose is to scrutinise the vast diversity of monuments (and conceptions of monuments) in South Asia in the past and the present, and to test whether and to what extent South Asian examples demand not only a challenge to western paradigms but the creation of new conceptual models and theories. The programme has three strands. The first explores the after-lives of monuments, considering how, where, when and why monuments were remodelled, reused, re-sited, remade, destroyed or abandoned to accommodate changing political and social climates. A second strand reflects on materiality. Whereas colonial monuments were often fabricated in enduring materials and sited at critical junctures of the colonial city, the sub-continent has long fostered a lively culture of ephemeral and temporary monuments, constructed in fragile materials and making inventive interventions into local spaces. The third investigates the emergence and afterlives of counter-monuments in the sub-continent’s contested political, cultural and religious histories.
Keynote lectures by Tapati Guha-Thakurta (Professor of History, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta) and Zeynep Celik (Distinguished Professor of Architectural History, New Jersey Institute of Technology) will be accompanied by papers and presentations by Dr Hilal Ahmed, Centre for Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi; Dr Tracy Anderson, University of Sussex; Sutapa Biswas University of the Arts London; Adam Hardy, Welsh School of Architecture; Dr Sudeep Dasgupta, University of Amsterdam; Sona Datta, Curator South Asia, The British Museum, London; Dr Clare Harris, School of Anthropology and Curator for Asian Collections, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford; Dr Raminder Kaur Kahlon, University of Sussex; Partha Mitter (Professor Emeritus, University of Sussex and Fellow Wolfson College Oxford); Dr Saloni Mathur, UCLA; Pratap Rughani, University of the Arts London; and Gayatri Sinha, curator and critic, New Delhi
South Asia is famous for its monuments, past and present. This research project has been developed through a series of international conferences and seminars, culminating in the publication of a special issue on The Afterlives of Monuments in South Asian Studies, published by Taylor and Francis as volume 29 issue 1, spring 2013.
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Guest Speaker - 2006
Gayatri Sinha is a leading independent curator and art critic. She is based in New Delhi where she has authored a weekly column on art and visual culture for national newspaper The Hindu.
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I studied in the UK (Edinburgh and London) and I have worked in the UK, the USA, and in Europe, where I am now at the University of Amsterdam. Following my PhD I have written extensively on art in Britain in the nineteenth and early twentieth century with two books, Painting Women (1994) and Beyond the Frame: Feminism and Visual Culture (2000) along with exhibitions such as ‘The Edwardian Era’ (co-curated 1987).
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