ABSTRACT

The Walled City of Lahore (WCL) is the historical core of metropolitan Lahore, the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab. WCL is a designated heritage district characterised by its medieval streetscape and historical buildings that are reasonably intact. It is also a hub of wholesale markets, small-scale manufacturing and a significant working-class population. The official heritage conservation policy seeks investors as developers for conservation of monuments and development of infrastructure for generating tourism revenues following the logic of capitalist growth. The heritage conservation projects underway are visibly gentrifying WCL, even if the stated objectives are to preserve history and improve the economic life of its residents. Based on extended ethnographic research, the study aims to unpack the question of heritage value of a place such as WCL for the traditional artisans, daily wagers and owners of micro-businesses, for example, who live and work there. The working classes stress the importance of access to knowledge, presence of multiple commons, cultural affinity, opportunities for apprenticeship and above all, affordability of WCL. Development of WCL as a tourist site in a global heritage market will sunder solidarities based on local production, enclose spatial commons and diminish working-class culture in the interests of attracting well-heeled consumers of a staged spatial experience.