chapter  8
20 Pages

Heritage of inclusion or exclusion?

Contested claims and access to housing in Amritsar, India 1
WithHelena Cermeño

This chapter uses Takia-Fateh-Shah in Amritsar (India) as a case study to illuminate an ongoing contestation process over urban land between a powerful state institution and a socioculturally marginalised community. It explores the role of two heritage sites, seven Sufi shrines and a military fort in the demarcation of urban territories and in shaping claims over land by the residents and the army, respectively. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, the chapter critically engages with the conflicting claims and discourses of the contestants and the role of urban heritage in this confrontation. It concludes that the question of what constitutes urban heritage and its preservation, reinvention and appropriation by contesting actors contributes not only to claim-making but also to the production of a sense of belonging and the construction of a collective identity that protects the community from ongoing caste-based exclusion and marginalisation.