Workshop – Social and Spatial Systems of Religious and Cultural Heritage in Sindh

Call for Papers

3 Nov 2017 at the Department of Architecture and Planning, NED UET, Karachi

The Seminar “Social and Spatial Systems of Religious and Cultural Heritage in Sindh”, is organized by the Department of Architecture and Planning at N. E. D. University in collaboration with the  Centre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asia du Sud /CEIAS (translated as Center for Indian and South Asian Studies) in Paris. This will be held on November 3, 2017. Sindh, an area that has included Southern Punjab up until British colonization, hosts an innumerable variety of monuments highlighting a rich heritage in terms of culture and religion. Many works have been published by different scholars, focusing on the Indus civilization, the Buddhist legacy, up until the period of Pakistan’ independence. The purpose of the seminar is to introduce the interaction between the social and the spatial organizations, or systems, in the production of a religious and a cultural heritage. The issue of the built legacy was addressed by a number of scholars with an amazing impulse in the 2010s. The works can be classified in two categories. Some works are general introductions to the built legacy in the Indus Valley, such as Holly Edwards’s work on Of Brick and Myth (Karachi, OUP, 2015) or Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro’s Art and Architecture of Sindh (Karachi, EFTPHS, 2014). Other works are devoted to given sites, such as for example Hussain Ahmad Khan’s Artisans, Sufis, Shrines (London, I. B. Tauris, 2015), or Hasan Ali Khan’s research on the The Material History of the Sohrawardi Sufi Orders (Delhi, Cambridge University Press, 2016).

In the wake of these seminal works, the specificity of the seminar is two-folded. On the one hand, it looks at the present situation of Muslim buildings as well as Hindu or Sikh ones, particular in Southern Pakistan. On the other hand, its purpose is mainly pedagogic. This means that it aims at introducing students with the ins and outs related to doing fieldworks in this area. Finally, the main issues to be addressed in this seminar are: what did this built legacy tell us about the local society ? How is it informing us about the circulation of cultural and religious patterns ? How was a local society constructed and what were the relation and interaction between its members, regarding their religious belonging and social affiliation ? What do we learn through the built legacy of the Sufi and other devotional traditions in Sindh ? Consequently, we understand the built legacy in broad terms, including iconography and other items of visual culture. The seminar invites scholars to share their research related to the issue, and to discuss with students who are themselves involved, or interested, in these studies. The breadth of the discourse shall spread to a range of disciplines including anthropology, architecture, art history and visual arts.

Lastly, the seminar is a result of the ongoing research project called the Uderolal Research Project (ULRP) and aims to share the framework and methodology undertaken in this. The ULRP explores the various physical and symbolic elements across the Indian subcontinent related to Uderolal also called Jhulay Lal, along with the social and cultural structures that support them. The history and the evolution of the figure of the Uderolal across the subcontinent is also a subject of this research.


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