Anthropology of Inscriptions: Memory and Cultural Heritage in the Public Sphere

Up to the present day, inscriptions are omnipresent in Nepal’s religious and public life. Written artefacts in Sanskrit, Newari and Nepali language recording grants, donations or the establishment of trusts are found on temples, shrines, wells and rest houses alike. Due to the rapid urbanization, infrastructure development or natural disasters many inscriptions are currently highly endangered.

The Project "Anthropology of Inscriptions: Memory and Cultural Heritage in the Public Sphere” which is funded by the Flagship Initiative “Transforming Cultural Heritage” of Heidelberg University aims at investigating the crucial role inscriptions, graffiti or other publicly displayed media of written communication have played for the construction of spaces, identities, collective memory and value in the Kathmandu Valley. A selected corpus of inscriptions will be documented, edited and published in digital form in close collaboration with the Nepal Heritage Documentation Project (NHDP) and the Research Unit “Documents on the History of Religion and Law of Premodern Nepal” (HAdW). By drawing on methods from Visual Anthropology and Philology, the inscriptions will be studied from an interdisciplinary and transtemporal perspective: as images and texts; as sediments of past meaning and sites of contemporary struggles; as historical objects embedded in monument sites, but also as literate practices through which ritual and festive activities are connected to heritage scapes.

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Christiane Brosius, Dr. Astrid Zotter

Research Fellows: Dr. Simon Cubelic, Dr. Rajan Khatiwoda, Dr. Monalisa Maharjan and, Dr. Nutandhar Sharma

Research Assistants: Julia Meckl, Franz Veit

For more information see the inaugural issue of CATSarena, the newsletter of the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS), on page 77.