SASNET Annual Lecture with Shirin M. Rai: "State, Architecture and Aesthetics - reconfiguring ‘the people’ through India’s new parliament"
It claims to be a ‘Parliament of the people’. But how do we read the politics of contemporary India through its new parliament building? Professor Shirin M. Rai (SOAS) explores the relationship between the Indian state, architecture and aesthetics.
About the lecture
In this lecture, Prof. Shirin M. Rai will contextualise the new Indian Parliament historically - in relation to the old Parliament building as well as the politics of ‘Lutyens’ Delhi’. She will also read contemporary Indian politics and discuss how state architecture is used as an instrument for nation-building and the Hinduisation of the country.
What have been the parameters, the debates surrounding the need and vision for a new Parliament Building in India? How does this architectural and nation-building project construct the idea of ‘the people’? And how do the two spheres: the people (as constructed by the state through this project) and the citizens’/audience’s consumption of the Parliament as another ‘telling’ of/by the people, interact with each other?
In her paper, Prof. Shirin M. Rai argues that the parliament building is symbolic of the larger, Hinduised politics of the BJP and its embedding in the landscape – politically and materially. She suggest that this is a long-term glory project that seeks to mobilise a particular citizenry in its image and generate an immediate political currency.
About Prof. Shirin M. Rai
Shirin M. Rai is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies SOAS, University of London. She is also the Founding Director of Warwick Interdisciplinary Research Centre for International Development (WICID) at the University of Warwick.
Shirin M. Rai is an interdisciplinary scholar and has written extensively on issues of gender, governance and development as well as politics and performance. In particular, she has been working on issues of gendered care and work and the costs of this carework, and on developing a framework of politics and performance across the social sciences/humanities boundaries.
Her most recent book is titled Performing Representation: Women Members in the Indian Parliament.