PROPOSING DIGITAL MODELS FOR THE DISCUSSION OF CONTESTED CONSERVATION PRACTICE: CASE STUDIES FROM TAMIL NADU, INDIA
This paper explores the potential for digital surveys to mediate as tools in a complex arena. As increased wealth and continuous religious practice have supported the energetic maintenance and renovation of temple buildings in Tamil Nadu justified by reference to ancient texts, UNESCO commissioned a fact-finding mission regarding conservation practice there in 2016. As part of wider project to investigate the strands of inherited textual guidance in this sensitive area, digital documentation methods are being tested in terms of their capacity to provide a locus for discourse between divergent views at a time of rapid formulation of policy documents that seek to offer guidelines for the conservation of an estimated 38000 temple buildings in the state. This paper outlines some challenges and ambitions of creating digital platforms to serve such an endeavour through potential scenarios offered by two case studies. Specifically, it considers the merits of tools to read urban encroachment, to identify change over time and to explore a means to provide a hypothetical platform for discussion of potentially sensitive adjustments.