Karan Saharya


In the Name of Heritage: Conservation as an Agent of Differential Development, Spatial Cleansing, and Social Exclusion in Mehrauli, Delhi

Advised by Susan N. Snyder and George E. Thomas

I intend to study the impacts of the architectural conservation of the Qutub Minar Complex on the urban village of Mehrauli, New Delhi, because the manner in which national- and international-level preservation and planning frameworks operate reveals underlying sociopolitical conflicts and instruments of spatial cleansing. The thesis seeks to develop a new framework for the examination of “heritage” in the post-postcolonial milieu that contextualizes the designated monument within the larger urban fabric and can inform policy using a stakeholder-centric approach. I hypothesize that the appropriation of “heritage” in contemporary urban India is a tool to develop elite tourist destinations while displacing local communities, expropriating land, and reiterating colonial-era identity politics.

Karan Saharya, MDes. Conceptual diagram indicating spatial cleansing and social exclusion around Qutub Minar monument.
Karan Saharya, MDes. Street separating the Qutub Minar Conservation Zone from Mehrauli urban village, showing people riding motorcycles and walking along the side. On the left side is a building, and on the right, a stone wall with trees and a stone tower behind it.
Karan Saharya, MDes. Informal housing around designated historic monuments in Mehrauli urban village.
Karan Saharya, MDes. Aerial view of the Qutub Minar Conservation Zone, New Delhi.
Karan Saharya, MDes. Boundary wall separating the designated monument from informal housing in Mehrauli urban village.
Karan Saharya, MDes. Theoretical framework for thesis project.