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Aditi Chandra

July 21 - August 11, 2013

Project Title: Shangri La's Mughal Garden: Women, Travel, and the Landscape

Project Abstract: My research at Shangri La will question the 19th-century contention that women, despite their status as traveling connoisseurs and scholars, could only engage with gardens through their link with the domestic. First, I examine the design of Shangri La's Mughal Garden and explicate its relationship with Lahore's Shalimar gardens, which is one of its known inspirations. By studying Duke's private papers, honeymoon scrapbook, and travel photographs, I trace relationships between her visits to Mughal and colonial gardens in pre-independence India and the design of Shangri La's Mughal Garden. Second, I examine the DDFIA collection for objects that represent flora or landscapes to ascertain if Duke's passion for horticulture and gardens translated into her collecting patterns. For example, the DDFIA houses a pair of 17th-century north Indian carpets with tulips, chrysanthemums, and poppies that form a hexagon when placed together and which could possibly have been used as seating around a similarly shaped pool of water (81.49 & 81.50). Lastly, I bring to bear my doctoral research on the intimate relationship between European women and garden spaces in colonial India with Duke's partronage of the Mughal Garden.

Aditi Chandra (Ph.D. University of Minnesota, 2011) is Assistant Professor of Islamic and South Asian Art at the School of Social Sciences & Humanities at the University of California, Merced. Her research examines how colonial archaeological and travel-related processes such as landscaping, site museums, the dissemination of postcards, and the eviction of refugees transformed Delhi's Sultanate and Mughal architecture into modern monuments for touristic consumption in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 2011 she curated an exhibition of colonial travel ephemera representing Delhi's Islamic architecture at Skidmore College's Tang Museum. Most recently, her essay "Potential of the 'Un-exchangeable Monument': Delhi's Purana Qila, in the time of Partition, c. 1947 - 63" was published in the International Journal of Islamic Architecture.

See Aditi Chandra's Lecture

Each of the four scholars selected by a juried review process in 2013 pursued research projects on the following theme: "Islamic South Asia."

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