Missing Environment in Cultural Heritage Discourse: The Case of Water in Western Himalayas

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:10
Oral Presentation
Chandan KAUSHAL, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
Heritage as a concept originated in the west in 19th century from where it travelled in world through colonial policy. However, heritage as it is known today was conceived and propagated by global agencies like UNESCO through concepts of World Heritage in the second half of the 20th century largely concerned with heritage management. Walsh argues heritage refers to a set of attitudes and relationships with the past. This paper is reflections on pursuance for heritage status for Chamba which was ruled by a single dynasty until independence and having records dating back to 5th century. This demand of heritage can be seen as part of globalisation where heritage means for some a ‘brand’ for marketing a place for tourist attraction or for others preservation of antiquities and also as veneration of past which plays a decisive role in negotiating, maintaining, and creating group identity. Although underlying notion of heritage discourse has been oriented towards protection of ‘valuable’ things which is threatened by loss, damage, and misuse for future generation. However, in this whole discourse ‘environment’ or “natural heritage” has been missing in Ravi valley. Various practitioners and scholars focus more on tangible artefacts and less on intangible aspect. What has been missing in the whole discussion is environment which has been deteriorating in the vicinity of the town. In the present paper I will focus on environmental heritage which has been part of folklore but has not found its place in present heritage discussions. Thus, paper brings out how rivers in general and water in specific like any other environmental feature is not heritage whereas artefacts associated with it are considered as heritage which reveals multiple meanings of heritage in Chamba valley.