ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

‘Heritigization’ and security by exclusion in Western India: Ahmedabad’s UNESCO site and the Sabarmati riverfront


Pessina Gloria - Politecnico di Milano, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Milan, Italy


53 – Security and heritage in the making of urban futures: Insights from South Asia and its diasporas – Merged into panel n. 47 – Recent Cultural Heritage Initiatives in Nepal and the Himalayas


 By observing the development of the discourse on security as opposed to interreligious riots in Gujarat (Western India), the paper investigates how this narrative gave shape to new spaces and interacted with processes of valorization through heritage conservation and promotion (‘heritigization’) in Ahmedabad, the main city of the state. The state government reaction to the major riots occurred in 2002 between Hindu and Muslim groups in the city and in further areas of Gujarat accelerated stalled projects, including the large-scale Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project and the recognition of Ahmedabad’s city center as a heritage site. The concern about security was reflected both in the displacement and relocation decisions related to the riverfront, as well as in the new public spaces along the Sabarmati and in the heritage-rich city center. Eventually, the paper reflects on the role of spaces informed by security concerns in becoming models and in strengthening narratives of exclusion against some parts of the population and some religious groups across India and beyond.