An interdisciplinary approach to Santal architectural history

Bharat, Gauri (2015) An interdisciplinary approach to Santal architectural history. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

Santals are one of the many Adivasi (indigenous) communities in eastern India and are
particularly renowned for precision and craftsmanship in their domestic architecture. The
visually stunning dwellings and settlements fascinated me as an undergraduate architecture
student, and now, in this doctoral research project, I take this forward as a critical enquiry
into the production, use and transformation of Santal built environments. There are two
important concerns in the study. First, I examine Santal dwellings and settlements as both
sites and processes, i.e., I analyse built forms, everyday life, domestic art practices, and
people’s perceptions of important aspects of their surroundings in order to understand
Santal senses of space and place. Second, I attempt to correlate architectural shifts to wider
changes in the Santal and other Adivasi communities and the Singhbhum region in order
that the architectural analysis may be brought to bear upon a wider understanding of
Adivasi pasts. In short, using architecture as a lens, I aim to understand Santal senses of
being-in-the-world and how these have transformed in the course of the past two centuries.
This study is an important departure from architectural discourses on traditional
environments since it examines processes of making and people’s experiences together
with architectural forms. This approach allows a new kind of architectural history to
emerge: one that is no longer about buildings alone, but that offers insights into peoples’
sense of their collective lives, and in particular their phenomenological engagements with
the social, environmental and historical worlds that are in part defined by architecture. The
project is inherently interdisciplinary in that architectural analysis is combined with
ethnography and participatory visual methods in the effort to study senses of place. More
significantly, however, I aim to contribute to critical discourses on traditional built
environments and their historiography.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 17 May 2016 10:14
Last Modified: 17 May 2016 10:14
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/58765
DOI:

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