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Secular Heritage, Sacred Reclamations: Archaeology, Buddhist Revival, and the Circulation of Relics in South and Southeast Asia

Date: 05/09/2013

Time: 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Location: 125 Nolte Center for Continuing Education

Cost: Free and open to the public


This lecture engages with the complex interplay between secularization of archaeological heritage and politics of religious reform and revival across India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Focusing on one particular corpus of material objects, Buddhist corporeal relics, circulating between Europe, South and mainland Southeast Asia, in response to demands of scholarly introspection, and religious as well as nationalist repatriations, Professor Mukherjee will argue for a co-constitution of secular and sectarian identities around heritage in the public spheres of the colonies and post-colonial nation-states.

Dr. Sraman Mukherjee is a professor of History at Presidency University in Calcutta, India. In 2012-13 he has been awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship for Transregional Research: Inter-Asian Contexts and Connections, which he is pursuing while based at the University of Minnesota in the Institute of Advanced Study and the Department of Art History. His research interests include modern South Asian material culture, with special focus on colonial power and politics of knowledge production, nationalism and politics of heritage and cultural patrimony, decolonization and postcolonial public spheres, and disciplinary and institutional histories of archaeology and museums. Dr. Mukherjee spent 2011-2012 as an affiliated postdoctoral fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) at Leiden University in the Netherlands and previously taught at Calcutta University, and at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, where he has held a postdoctoral fellowship. His present research focuses on the competing social agencies of specialist scholars and political interest groups in the production and management of built structural heritage across sites of religious practice in postcolonial South Asia. 


  • Name: Institute for Advanced Study
  • E-mail: ias@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-626-5054
  • Sponsored by: Institute for Advanced Study, Art History, Religious Studies, Critical Asian Studies


Parking is available at the Fourth Street ramp and in the Church Street garage. Reciprocal contract parking in the Fourth Street ramp is available for those with contracts on the West Bank or on the Saint Paul campus.

More information: http://ias.umn.edu/2013/05/09/mukherjee-sraman/

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact the IAS.

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