BSP Podcast: Bhaswar Malick – Paradise on Earth: Tomb of Akbar at Sikandrabad

podcast update

Season three of our podcast continues this week with another panel presentation from the BSP Annual Conference in July 2018.

Season 3 episode 56: 29 March 2019

Here is Bhaswar Malick’s paper ‘Paradise on Earth: Tomb of Akbar at Sikandrabad’. You can listen to this podcast episode on the BSP’s Podbean site, and you can also find it on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Abstract: “Globalization’s dissolution of boundaries parallels a resurgent identity politics, exacerbated by religious invocations. Evidently, the Islamic heritage of India is being repositioned as foreign and incongruent to the nation-state’s cultural legacy. A prime case in point is the recent exclusion of the Taj Mahal from the state government’s tourism booklet– this iconic heritage having been labelled as the architectural flagbearer of Islamic rule in India. But this exclusion is also symptomatic of the primacy of classifications: architecture’s ‘scientific method’ – a work identified by its style and age, its origin and author, and an objectified list of its features. This paper presents an alternative, rooted in the discourses of phenomenology, that can illuminate the nature of situated human interactions more holistically, and hermeneutics, that can reveal the continuing relationships between works of the distant past with the always new present. To account for the booklet’s missed opportunity, this paper will dwell not on the Taj Mahal, but on the tomb of the most powerful Mughal Emperor Akbar, at Sikandrabad. Ignored and attracting far fewer tourists, this monument recedes into relative obscurity, although located within the same city. This paper argues that the tomb remains relevant to modern India because it incites questions of life and death, of living and dying; it claims legitimacy as a work of art – a meaningful and on-going, ever-present human experience. The work works best by transforming a sense of being with the deceased in a place after death, to become a respite in mortal life for soulful contemplation; realised for heightened sensitivity, activated by bodily engagement, and explored within spatial sequences, all encompassed as a holistic architectural experience. In introspection, it provides insight into what Islam, and the human experience in general, are for you and me today, beyond yet through constructions of a defined past.”

The British Society for Phenomenology’s Annual Conference took place at the University of Kent, in Canterbury, UK during July, 2018. It gathered together philosophers, literary scholars, phenomenologists, and practitioners exploring phenomenological theory and its practical application. It covered a broad range of areas and issues including the arts, ethics, medical humanities, mental health, education, technology, feminism, politics and political governance, with contributions throwing a new light on both traditional phenomenological thinkers and the themes associated with classical phenomenology. More information about the conference can be found here.

Reminder: Early bird registration is now open for the JBSP’s 50th Anniversary Conference: On the History of Being – After the Black Notebooks (2019). In celebration of Volume 50 of the JBSP, the British Society for Phenomenology is running a three-day conference, examining the contribution of Heidegger’s Schwarze Hefte (Black Notebooks) to an understanding of the question of the history of being. See the conference homepage for more details.