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FAZ article by Axel Michaels and Niels Gutschow

Dec 13, 2016

German Newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) published an article by Cluster members Prof. Axel Michaels and Prof. Niels Gutschow on December 28, 2016. The article is entitled “Götter im Ruhestand” and focuses on the reconstruction of Nepal’s cultural monuments and the difficult balancing act between mythical longings and global standards that goes along with it.

The article discusses the prevention of the reconstruction of monuments by the Nepalese government as well as by transcultural entanglements. One example of these difficulties is that reconstruction authorities have not supported the affected households until now. However, they granted assurance of almost ten million euros for the design and implementation of the reconstruction to the memorial authorities in the course of the last year.

Furthermore, the authors criticise the slow decision-making process by the government regarding the form of reconstruction. The preservation of cultural heritage is influenced by mythical longings and global standards. Therefore, the continuing discussion about the use of traditional and authentic or earthquake-resistant materials delays the reconstruction process. The article also reflects on the wasteful use of the government's budget for the improvement of temples for tourists.

The article also reports on the reconstruction of the temple in Patan with support of Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT) and the Gerda Henkel Foundation. During the reconstruction, an antiquarian method is used that includes high-quality parts of the original buildings, which were preserved after the earthquakes.

Prof. Axel Michaels is Senior Professor of Heidelberg University and Director of the Cluster "Asia and Europe".

Prof. Niels Gutschow is coordinator of the project D4 "Aspects of Authenticity" at the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe".