Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

Decolonizing (the concept of) heritage  
Ulrik Johnsen (Moesgaard Museum)

Paper short abstract:

The concept of heritage has proven instrumental for several ends in Nepal. This paper suggests that time is ripe to revisit and replace it with the emic concept of sampada. Understanding entities referred to as heritage in Nepal requires a more holistic approach than the concept of heritage offers.

Paper long abstract:

The concept of heritage has gained footing in both public and intellectual discourse in and on the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, over the last decade. The question, I address in this paper, is, whether the concept of heritage continues to be productive – or, if it, in fact, increasingly proves to be counterproductive.

Recent stories in the Nepalese media describe how devotional objects are protected, thereby impeding the access of worshippers to them. Perhaps it is time to decolonize the concept of heritage itself in the Kathmandu Valley. The concept has been imported to Nepal from abroad and has served certain ends purposefully until now. As a guideline for scholarly understanding of what is referred to as ‘heritage’ in the valley, I propose replacing the concept of heritage with the concept of sampada, emic to the Newar community.

Like many other foreign words and concepts, heritage has been incorporated into colloquial language in the Kathmandu valley without translation. The closest equivalent in Nepali, however, is the concept of sampada. Unlike heritage, this concept refers to two overall aspects; a tangible and an intangible one, which stand in a relation of complementarity. Whereas the concept of heritage accentuates the need for material preservation and material stasis, the concept of sampada emphasizes the impermanent nature of life and traditions. Challenging the concept of heritage and its implications in the Kathmandu Valley, I argue that sampada offers itself as a much more sustainable concept to apply for future thinking and action.

Panel P058b
Alter-heritage: imagining South Asian heritage from the margins II
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -