History of Art


Research Seminar Series: Trying, and Failing, to Follow the Holocaust Museum Paradigm in India.

24 February 2022, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Helena Vowles-Shorrock – History of Art

This lecture discusses two twenty-first-century museum projects in India dedicated to the historical traumas of two different communities. The first of these, the Khalsa Heritage Complex, addresses the Sikh community and is a multimillion-dollar project whose high-tech displays are housed in spectacular “starchitecture.” The other, far more modest, project is sponsored by the Tibetan refugee community in their exile capital at Dharamsala. Though the two museums are vastly different in scale, architecture, and ambition, it turns out that both museums were inspired by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Museum. But forms of Jewish Holocaust memorialization cannot simply be “cut” from one place and “pasted” in another, for local contexts and politics exert their own pushes and pulls on these projects. By comparing the differing and sometimes surprising fortunes of these two projects, this talk  discusses the circumstances under which it becomes possible for a community to memorialize its difficult history, and when it is that a difficult amnesia becomes a necessity

About the Speaker

Professor Kavita Singh

Professor of Art History at Jawaharlal Nehru University

Kavita Singh is Professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics of Jawaharlal Nehru University where she teaches courses in the history of Indian painting, particularly the Mughal and Rajput schools, and the history and politics of museums. Singh has published on secularism and religiosity, fraught national identities, and the memorialization of difficult histories as they relate to museums in South Asia and beyond. She has also published essays and monographs on aspects of Mughal and Rajput painting, particularly on style as a signifying system.  In 2018, she was awarded the Infosys Prize in Humanities and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020.