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Shubhangni Gupta

Ph.D. student, Anthropology
built heritage, policy, India, culture, preservation

Research interests: Built Heritage, Cultural Heritage, India, Ownership, Experts/Expertise, Community, South Asia, Architecture, Policy, Bureaucracy, Rajasthan, Rural

Shubhangni's project studies the practice of heritage with respect to the Shekhawati haveli in Rajasthan, India. She is interested in analyzing the relationship between ideas of expertise and forms of ownership in the space of heritage practice and preservation, and how different 'experts' insert themselves as stakeholders in local community practice.

The Shekhawati cultural belt in Rajasthan presents an interesting case to explore these questions as it has a rich repository of historical buildings situated in areas that have escaped the reach of institutionalised state intervention and commercial heritage tourism. Her research investigates how fluid notions of ownership interact with a multi-tiered practice of expertise — state cultural and archaeological bodies, private insitutionalized preservation agencies and local communities — generating a site of conflicting ideas on how these spaces should be preserved. The intention of this project is not only to understand how non-urban heritage networks are designed, but also how such a study can speak to which stakeholders are made visible and invisible in the practice of heritage.

Shubhangni completed her B.A. and M.A. in Modern Indian History from Delhi University in 2014 and 2016 respectively. She completed her MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2018, where her dissertation focussed on the first colonial legislation on the preservation of monuments in India and how it impacted preservation practices in the country.

She is also a co-coordinator of the South Asia Working Group at Stanford. You can find more information about it here.