The work on Pondicherry will examine the main city and its satellite Auroville as competing spaces of encounter. The timeframe for this examination includes both its status as a Union Territory since 1963 and the legacy of its 296-year period as the administrative centre of the French presence in India before that. The aim is to identify its key representations in text, photography and cartography taking into account those produced for both a domestic and an international audience. Led by Ian H. Magedera, University of Liverpool, the main case-study will focus on how spiritual tourism intersects with the competition for land in Pondicherry today.
Pondicherry, or Puducherry to give it its Tamil name, has had a unique range of state and non-state organizations shaping its development as a heritage location since 1963. The main output of this study will be an examination of local reactions to the cultural ambitions international organizations such as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville and how those ambitions are themselves intertwined with the legacy of the French presence in the city.
Archival work will include a review of material on Pondicherry held at the India Office Records (British Library) and at archives in India and in France.
External collaborations are especially welcome from scholars working in tourism, town, and heritage planning in Pondicherry and other Indian cities. Additional collaboration is invited from scholars working on cross-cultural contact in Pondicherry in earlier periods of encounter, particularly in the mid-eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries.