Petrification and Purity: The Colonial Architecture of the Hindu Temple (AHRI Lecture)

The Arts and Humanities Research Institute (AHRI) and the Scottish Centre for Global History present the second event in their seminar series for 2018/19, featuring Dr Deborah Sutton (Senior Lecturer, University of Lancaster) speaking on 'Petrification and Purity: The Colonial Architecture of the Hindu Temple'.

This paper is part of a larger project that examines the colonial creation of ‘the Hindu Temple’ from the late-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The paper will trace the refinement of the temple structure as ‘vacated’ architecture, divorced from its devotional occupation and socio-cultural environment. The voluminous and intricate decoration that was regarded as ‘typical’ of temple architecture was regarded as both index and illustration of Hindu degeneration.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, an English scholar of architecture remarked that temple architecture could only be erected under ‘a despotic hierarchy or monarchy’. Architectural analysis created a single, unified architectural subject but did so by disassembling the temple into elements that could be distinguished and categorised as representative of specific chronological and regional styles. 

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Tickets: Free