What place does the historic built environment have in contemporary Asia and what does its enduring care and conservation express about perceptions and values of heritage in daily life? What happens when the historic and the contemporary are treated as separate and distinct categories? This course examines what we will refer to as built heritage in contemporary Asia for what it reveals about the legacies of conservation (indigenous and colonial) and the centrality of heritage to an array of historical and pressing concerns. While heritage conservation in Asia has always been integral to cultural continuity, governance, and spiritual practice, it is increasingly implicated in phenomena of rapid urbanization, rising religious and ethno-nationalism, regional alliance building, the aggressive pursuit of developmental modernism, and resilience strategies in light of climate change. We will investigate how heritage conservation practices in Asia have and continue to shape the built environment and the ways in which they are challenging longstanding conservation discourse erroneously considered as international norms.
Through an analysis of regional case studies, a wide array of source materials, and discussions with invited scholars and heritage conservation practitioners from the region, we will address questions such as:
What are the genealogies of national heritage legislation and what has been their impact on national prevailing attitudes towards conservation and international best practices?
As a practice enacted in the public realm, how are heritage and its conservation leveraged as a form of governance and a medium for public production and subject formation?
Who are the principal agents of conservation; what forms of expertise are privileged; and with what outcomes?
In what ways are the design philosophies and material building practices of the past resources for contemporary challenges in Asia as outlined above and what can we learn from these experiences?
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