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D12 Heritage as a Transcultural Concept (project completed)

Heritage as a Transcultural Concept - Angkor Wat from an Object of Colonial Archaeology to a Contemporary Global Icon

Coordination: Monica Juneja, Michael Falser

Abstract

The project investigates the formation of the modern concept of cultural heritage by charting its colonial, postcolonial/nationalist and global trajectories. It does so through researching the case study of the Cambodian 12th century temple of Angkor Wat (Falser) as different phases of its history unfolded within the transcultural interstices of European and Asian projects and conceptual definitions: from its “discovery in the jungle” by French colonial archaeology in the 19th century to its canonisation as a symbol of national identity during struggle for decolonisation and under the postcolonial Khmer Rouge regime, and finally as a global icon of contemporary heritage schemes. A study of material traces and architectural forms as well as of literary and visual representations of the structure will be undertaken with a view to analysing processes of transfer and translation as well as the recent proliferation of hybrid art forms in the wake of the monument becoming a media icon.
The enquiry into the formation of heritage as a transcultural concept will acquire a sharper analytical contour by drawing in comparisons with studies on the making of archaeological heritage in colonial India (Sengupta) and the modern disciplinary formations of Indian architectural and art history (Juneja).

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