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Accepted Paper:

In the footsteps of pilgrims: examples of displacement, resistance and creativity from the practice of local urban pilgrimage in heritagizing Varanasi  
Vera Lazzaretti (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL))

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores diverse reactions of some of the actors involved in the practice of local urban pilgrimage to processes of securitization and heritagization of a multiply controversial area in the city of Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh, India).

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I document ways of resistance and adaptation adopted by actors involved in the performance of local pilgrimage to face ongoing dynamics of securitization and heritage making at the center of Varanasi' s old town. This reknown pilgrimage city has up to now failed to appear in the WHL, but nontheless engages with heritage discourses at various levels.

The area under investigation comprises the famous Hindu temple of Kashi Vishvanath, the Gyan Vapi mosque and a sacred well. The latter have represented for long the center of urban pilgrimages, being the place in which to perform initial and final rituals for any local circumambulation. However, due to a variety of reasons, it represents today a multiply contested area, which is no more easily accessible. The whole space is as well traversed by multiple claims and views supported by diverse kinds of authorities. These try to define and project in this space various versions of the city's heritage, while producing urban boundaries and affecting in many ways the compound's daily life, as well as the practice of local urban pilgrimages.

On the one hand, the paper analyses the views and ways of resistance of the main past pilgrimage specialist against the takeover of new authorities and their projects for the area. On the other hand, it highlights the reactions of other performers, who face and engage with the new spatial situation in diverse ways. The paper ultimately interrogates the position of local pilgrimage in urban revitalisation.

Panel P096
Urban revitalization through heritagization: collaboration, resistance and the right to the city
  Session 1