The larger research objective is to work with oral narratives from the megacity of Delhi, that make visible the diversity of living and working experiences, especially from marginal groups like lower castes, immigrants and women. In a city whose energy is more drawn from and driven by various immigrant groups, such an orality based approach recognises ‘heritage-making’ as a process of cultural production. Such an approach helps develop an understanding of how people make sense of their world and their place within it, as well as strategically assert their voices in the public sphere. Heritage as ‘making’ is then an active and affective expression of individual and community sense of self.

The research will look at:

  • Motivations behind such heritage-making activities, and how heritage is used to organise their publics
  • How people produce and consume such ideas of heritage and how heritage is used as media of communication to transmit knowledge and values
  • Tensions within identities, and the ways these and related activities articulate a reconfigured place-based politics.

This will provide space for reflection and contemplation and addressing local concerns of social justice through examination of lived histories. Besides, it will also help address a growing sense of disquiet about the relatively unexamined gulf between the practice of academic history and heritage – and the thriving production of histories which arise out of a demand for a past in community, regional, or caste forums. The thriving public life of ‘community’ history in India is in inverse proportion to the dwindling interest in and development of academic history across India today. This present research will draw attention to the heterogeneous, multiple historical productions and ideas of community ‘heritage’, and link the contributions of communities in the making of the city, using oral narratives and supporting documentation.

This will work towards the larger research interest of creating a pedagogical platform for ‘understanding urban heritage and futures of cities’, from a multi-disciplinary standpoint across the humanities and social sciences.