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Brown University

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

India: National Identity and the Arts


This study is an investigation of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It was inspired by the somewhat incongruous fact that the ASI, which now exhorts visitors to its monuments to feel pride in their heritage, was founded by British colonialists who felt that contemporary Indian society was in shambles and in need of Western domination. In an attempt to investigate the completeness of this transformation, this study traces key events and figures in the ideological, institutional, and academic history of the study of the Indian past, paying close attention to the relationship between scholarship and colonialism. This analysis, combined with observations of the contemporary ASI sites of Ajanta and Badami reveal that while the explicit messaging of the ASI has changed since its colonial inception, its distribution of resources, as well as the type of scholarship it produces remain well within the boundaries of what colonial knowledge.


Arts and Humanities | Asian Art and Architecture | Asian Studies | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


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