Thursday, June 25, 2009

Conservation cracks

Heritage and conservation have unfortunately become exactly what it has become - a 'monumental' intervention. Not only in terms of the effort it requires but also in terms of its application. The repositories of people's knowledge and traditional systems are now 'museumised' in the forts, palaces, temples and such.

And herein lies the loss.

Why does heritage promotion fail ? I think it is because of this nature of the concept. Because it ignores or neglects the living heritage among people - still alive, still being adapted and adopted. It ignores heritage in motion. It ignores evolving heritage. The 'glamour' is 'frozen' in the palatial hotels and structures. Traditional practices, skills and crafts are 'showcased' in the aesthetics of boutique hotels. Heritage becomes elitist. Access to it is restricted. Its aliveness in everyday lives of ordinary people is eroded and lost.

Heritage dies and becomes a candidate for conservation.

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