ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

53 – Security and heritage in the making of urban futures: Insights from South Asia and its diasporas

This panel aims at investigating discursive and material interactions of security and heritage as they take place in, and transform, cities and urban everyday lives. How do security and heritage interact, and are mobilised by a variety of city-users, to imagine and make South Asian urban futures?


Vera Lazzaretti - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia, Lisboa, Portugal

Long Abstract

‘Security’ and ‘heritage’ are distinct research topics, mostly theorised by drawing on data collected in Euro-American contexts. While the two concepts remain contested and negotiable, scholars have demonstrated that security and heritage are individually produced by historical, social and political circumstances. At the same time, they are both productive of new socio-spatial formations: in their names, places are transformed irretrievably, and so are the ways in which people relate to them. Their realms are deeply affective.
While some of the knots tying security and heritage are well researched (particularly when it comes to conflicts), ways in which they may be entangled in, and interact to shape, urban future and everyday life remain under-explored.
South Asia and its oversea diasporas are fruitful sites to investigate these matters: on the one hand, there is an increasing mobilisation of security in diverse discursive spheres which the pandemic has perhaps irretrievably contributed to intensify. On the other, whether in national politics of memorialisation, minority identity movements or authoritarian revamping of religious architecture, demands for heritage continue to increase. How do security and heritage interact in urban settings? What kinds of cities (and spaces within cities) are produced by their interactions? How are security and heritage mobilised to counter exclusion and imagine alternative futures?