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Decolonisation of architectural history education In India

Athulya Aby, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University, India

Architectural education in India is largely envisioned as a technical-vocational course, leading to humanities related courses like history remaining alienated from students as well as practitioners. History of Architecture is a core subject in the Bachelors of Architecture as per Council of Architecture (CoA) guidelines, but the program level outcomes are often limited to stylistic study of standard sets of examples of monumental structures from the past. This trend can be traced back to the colonial epistemology started during the British programme of instruction and is ingrained in the educational structure. This study inquires into the current state of history education at  the undergraduate level in architectural schools in India and examines the continuing impact of colonisation on our production of knowledge. This is done by analysing the content of the architectural history curricula of some colleges in India and conducting interviews with academic practitioners who have been teaching the subject in those institutions. Unpacking the curricula and their influences on teaching brought out the perpetuation of colonial biases embedded in architectural history education, as well as ways in which some institutions and teachers are addressing these issues. The study makes a case for decolonisation, by arguing that a well-designed history curriculum has the potential to contextualise design education and create critically aware architects, and take a step towards decolonising the practice itself.

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