A field interview with a traditional village blacksmith in Northern Telangana, Andhra Pradesh (L-R: Dr S. Jaikishan, blacksmith, and Tathagata Neogi)

Exeter postgraduate student selected as member of International Council to aid conservation of Indian heritage

An Exeter Archaeology graduate and current postgraduate research student in Archaeology has been accepted as a Young Professional member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in New Delhi, India.

The committee was set up in September 2012 to aid the conservation, maintenance and interpretation of tangible and intangible heritage of India – the living traditions essential for the identity of communities.

Traditional performances, social and cultural practices, rituals, knowledge of traditional crafts and craft specialisations, and oral traditions are all examples of tangible and intangible heritage that are passed on through generations, often in closely knit communities and based on kinship or caste.

Tathagata Neogi was selected as one of only five members of the International Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICICH), formed under ICOMOS India National Committee in December 2012.  ICOMOS, founded in 1965, is an international professional non-government organisation working towards the protection and conservation of global cultural heritage. It also offers advice to UNESCO on World Heritage Sites.

Tathagata is currently funded by an Intangible Histories Studentship between Exeter and the National Institute of Advanced Sciences (NIAS) Bangalore. This joint doctoral programme between the two institutions initiated in 2011 allows for in-depth research in two countries with academic experts in relevant fields based in both areas.

An active member of the Archaeology Department since 2008, Tathagata previously participated in the Exeter-NIAS UKIERI-funded Pioneering Metallurgy Project, and developed a special interest in the culture and traditions of the surviving blacksmith communities of Telangana, India. Tathagata is now elaborating on this aspect of India’s intangible heritage in his research and expects his new appointment to establish his research at Exeter on an even stronger footing.

Dr. Gillian Juleff, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, comments “I am delighted that Tathagata has been selected for this important new committee. It is a measure of his long-term commitment to the archaeology of India and Intangible Cultural Heritage is very much the main focus of his research. His selection also brings recognition to the Archaeology Department at Exeter and our split-site PhD programme with NIAS."

Tathagata remarks of his success “I am really elated by this and look forward to working with the ICOMOS. These associations will help me during my PhD, which largely focuses on intangible cultural heritage, but also invite further interest in the field and assist in conservation of these rapidly declining traditions in India."

For more information on ICOMOS, see the ICOMOS website. Information on Archaeology at Exeter can be viewed on the Archaeology webpages, or for details of the Exeter/NIAS Intangible Histories Doctoral Studentships, see the University PhD Funding pages.

Date: 4 January 2013

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