1. bookVolume 69 (2021): Issue 3 (September 2021)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
First Published
30 Mar 2019
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

Identity, Dominance and Contestation: Young People’s Engagement with Heritage and Culture

Published Online: 11 Oct 2021
Page range: 416 - 431
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
First Published
30 Mar 2019
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

The exclusionary identities plaguing our contemporary times have strong linkages with the heritage and culture of communities. Heritage is a construct that not only records the past but is also created for contemporary social and political needs. Based on ethnographic fieldwork at two publicly contested heritage sites in Maharashtra, India, this paper seeks to understand, young people’s interactions with heritage and culture. These two sites are an ancient Buddhist monument combined with a Hindu temple and a museum articulating elitist narratives of Maharashtra’s past. We found that young people’s heritage conceptions are deeply rooted in inter-connected political identities of belonging to a region and a nation; and regionally popular symbols such as Shivaji and hill forts play a significant role in shaping them. Our fieldwork shows that the heritage represented by some institutions reproduces the broader social dominations and injustice. Worryingly, some of these projections are accepted by young people as their own heritage. This normalizes the partial representation of heritage. Some young people, however, contest some of those dominant projections and hold diverse ideas on heritage. These conceptions provide fertile ground for young people’s political engagement with the idea of heritage and are a call for them to participate in the current contest over India’s past. Diversity and contestations are hallmarks of heritage and culture in India. In that context, the paper enriches our understandings of those discursive and power laden processes that shape the formation of heritage and culture among youth, not only in the global South but also across the world.

Keywords

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