Seminar on ‘Lahore: Past and present’

Salim Ahmed

Speakers at a seminar on “Lahore: Past and Present” have laid a stress on preserving and promoting both the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the City, saying that without this centuries-old heritage, it would be no more Lahore.
“The recent studies on Lahore stress the need for questioning the colonial representation of the city’s past and the process of ‘modernisation’,” said eminent historian and writer Prof Dr Tahir Kamran while addressing the seminar organized by the History Department of Government College University Lahore in collaboration with the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC).
The seminar was aimed at exploring the multiple ways of seeing the city by interrogating stereo-types generated as a result of political, social, cultural and religious biases and misrepresentations regarding history and culture of Lahore.
Punjab Higher Education Commission Prof Dr Mohammad Nizamuddin chaired the inaugural session of seminar which was also marked by the launch and deliberations upon “Lahore in the Time of the Raj”, a book by Prof Ian Talbot and Prof Tahir Kamran. Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah unveiled the book.
Prof Kamran, the GCU dean faculty of social sciences and former Iqbal fellow at the University of Cambridge, said that dawn of modernity has given a new turn to pre-colonial and colonial globalized world of the City. The walled city was considered “inward-looking”, medieval, illiterate, uncivilized, while the newly developed areas in colonial Lahore, such as Model Town, Defence and Civil Lines, were considered “outward-looking”, modern, literate and civilized.
“We also see such representation of Lahore in official documents, memoirs and tourist guides. Such a representation of Lahore is also reflected in our ways of seeing the city, especially by the youth,” he added. Ali Usman Qasmi, historian, writer and assistant professor at LUMS, also showed his concerns, saying that “we need to discuss the logic of this new liberal model of development which is going to alter the city again, and we would not be able to retrieve what we are losing in terms of our cultural heritage.”
Mr Qasmi said he was not only concerned about the physical elimination of their cultural heritage but also how thing were being intentionally eliminated from their minds. He said youth now considered the modern shopping malls as landmarks of Lahore instead Masjid Wazir Khan, which was highly unfortunate.

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