Heritage in the Post-Industrial City

Discourses on Architectural Heritage, De-politicisation of Space and Issues of Socio-cultural Continuity in Mumbai’s Historic Neighbourhoods

By Shweta Wagh | Published in the Intach Journal of Heritage Studies Vol 1

In the context of the economic restructuring of the city from a landscape of production to a landscape of consumption, there has been a general shift in the theory and practice of conservation. This paper will look at discourses centred around heritage conservation in Mumbai with the particular intent of examining how these play out in a post-industrial city attempting to demystify some of the rhetoric adopted by conservationists. It will try to show how conservation discourses and practices tend to align with the interests of dominant groups in the city, often insensitive to the interests of marginalized groups. In this process, landscapes of the city such as its industrial cores, places of workers housing, inner cities, gaothans and koliwadas which once were landscapes of manufacturing, commerce and productivity are relegated to the margins. As histories are constructed around imagined communities, landscapes are commodified, transforming traditional neighbourhoods into consumable artefacts and aestheticised enclaves. The paper argues for the need for alternative frameworks which are inclusive and accommodative of the needs and interests of local communities and address issues related to sociocultural continuity in historic landscapes.

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