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Accepted Paper:

Building 'Monuments' in a World Class City: Aesthetics and Politics in Contemporary Delhi  
Sushmita Pati (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at two ‘monuments’- Qila Rai Pithora and 108 Foot Sankat Mochan Dham which have come up in Delhi in the last decade. It tries to understand the contemporary mode of ‘monument’ building, both by the state and the people through issues of myths, histories, sacrality and governance.

Paper long abstract:

This proposal looks at two contemporary forms of 'monuments' that have come up in the city of Delhi as symptomatic of larger phenomenon of the means of 'distribution of the sensible'. These two 'monuments', the Qila Rai Pithora(the memorial site of Prithviraj Chauhan built by the state)and the 108 Foot Sankatmochan Dham (a temple built on illegal land with hundred and eight feet high Hanuman statue and a fake Vaishno Devi Shrine built by a lower caste community)which have come up in the last decade, though are seemingly unconnected, point out towards a larger conflict over space and its meanings and affects. Together, they throw up a host of questions regarding religiosity, sacrality, urban legends, histories, contemporary forms of urban governance and lower caste mobilization in the context of a city which is going 'global' and lead us beyond their apolitical appearances. These two structures symbolize how an ocular field while is being created through the vast, manicured lawns of Qila Rai Pithora is also being disrupted at the same time by the kitschy, brightly painted Hanuman. The Prithviraj Chauhan Memorial indicates how the state has come a long way from creating a secular, national culture for the city(built over a Muslim graveyard), while the Hanuman Temple takes us to a different narrative of attempts of a temple built on illegal land to survive. This paper attempts to tie up these aspects to pose new questions regarding aesthetics,conflict and politics at their intersection.

Panel P34
Aesthetics, politics, conflict
  Session 1