Wednesday, October 19, 2011

'All Architecture is Political'

At a time when the rest of the English-language media is busy  flinging mud at Mayavati's "Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Park" in Noida, here is a refreshing, contrarian view from Jerry Rao:

Rao, Jerry (Indian Express, 2011): The Elites Don't Get it

Media pundits and self-appointed experts forget a central theme in human affairs: all architecture is political. Tirumala Nayak’s palace in Madurai, the Red Fort in Delhi, Herbert Baker’s Parliament in New Delhi are all political statements meant to overawe subjects or impress them in other ways. By the way, this is also true of Trajan’s Column in Rome, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Washington Monument in DC and St Paul’s Cathedral in London. With the rise of nationalism and the excessive interest in “identity politics” that has characterised the last two centuries, architecture has been used consciously or otherwise, by elites, to create, enhance and sustain pride in group identities.
Somehow, you realize the magnitude of what she is trying to achieve only when you take a look at the bigger picture. A good way to get this is through Christophe Jaffrelot's book, Dr Ambedkar and Untouchability - Analysing and Fighting Caste.

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