Kultur- und Religionsgeschichte Südasiens
Cultural and Religious History of South Asia



Forschungsprojekt | Research project

Security and heritage. Alignments and collusions of two global leitmotifs

Abgeschlossen | Concluded

Principal Investigators:

Prof. Dr. Ute Hüsken

Dr. Vera Lazzaretti

Funded by the Excellence Strategy Flagship Initiative „Transforming Cultural Heritage“

Project Duration: 2020 - 2021

Security and Heritage
Police and passers-by at the Kashi Vishvanath Corridor in Varanasi (Banaras) a few hours after its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 8 March 2019. Picture credits: Vera Lazzaretti.

Security and heritage are leitmotifs in the contemporary moment. This phase of global history is saturated with surveillance: from museums to shopping malls, tourist destinations, places of worship and historic neighbourhoods, the sight of security paraphernalia has become commonplace. At the same time, whether in national politics of memorialisation, minority identity movements or revamping of religious architecture, demands for heritage status continue to increase. Scholars have shown that security and heritage individually shape the places in which we live, and inform future imaginings. But what if they did this in tandem? While some of the knots tying security and heritage are well researched, ways in which they align discursively and materially, and collude to shape urban space and everyday lives remain under-explored. This project thus looks at security and heritage as interconnected imaginaries and cross-fertilising processes. We begin this new endeavour through an intensive anthropological analysis of a specific urban setting in north India—where matters of security and heritage are pervasive—combining historical, discourse and visual analysis with extensive ethnographic research. However, we aim to open up a new avenue of research and foster broader comparisons with other urban settings in South Asia and beyond.


Vera Lazzaretti (2021) New monuments for the new India: heritage-making in a ‘timeless city’, International Journal of Heritage Studies, DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2021.1954055


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