Shubhangni Gupta

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 10306

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Gupta, Shubhangni (Stanford U.) "Heritage Landscapes in the Practice of Ownership and Expertise: Marwari Havelis in Shekhawati, Rajasthan"

My research project investigates how the practice of heritage reworks categories of preservation, legal and cultural ownership and heritage expertise in the context of Shekhawati residential mansions called havelis in Rajasthan, India. Built in the late 19th- early 20th centuries by the wealthy Marwari business community, these havelis are a site of rapid architectural transformation that is significantly influencing experience of community, livelihood and culture in the region. Moreover, they speak to the need for re-evaluating stakeholder intervention and how specific ideas of heritage ‘expertise’ are privileged over others to drive ‘desirable’ vs ‘undesirable’ development practices. Since the havelis are a pan-India architectural form but have specific connotations in the Shekhawati context, I aim to undertake this project through a combination of multi-sited heritage ethnographies and archival research to study the contextual specificities of the space. The study, therefore, will be significant to evaluate the stakes of change-making through heritage preservation practices in India, as well as how the study of the contemporary past forces us to reckon with shifting ideas of heritage practice through a multi-stakeholder perspective.