Fri, 10 Oct, 6pm : Trees, Culture & Public space

The Alternative Law Forum invites you to a talk titled ‘Trees, Culture and Public Space’ looking specifically at the ‘Ashwathkatte ‘ – the raised platform around the peepul tree, found in several parts of the city and its contribution to urban space.

The talk will be followed by a discussion. All are welcome. Details pasted below .

When : Friday, 10th October, 6pm – 7.30pm

Where: Alternative Law Forum, 122/4 Infantry Road (Next to Balaji Art Gallery), Bangalore 560001

In February 2014, the city of Bangalore hosted Neralu, a citizen-led urban tree festival where people came together to celebrate “the wide diversity, functionality, ecology, histories and memories of the city’s trees”*. A discussion on the cultural meaning attached to some of the older, shade-giving trees in the city made me realise that people continue to worship trees and that sacred trees generate neighbourhood public spaces. This study specifically looks at how the peepul tree (Ficus Religiosa) shrine with its serpent stones and the raised platform around it, locally called theashwath katte, contributes to the production of urban space in the city.

I find that as the social and cultural context changes the urban space changes – from being a silent space to being a noisy, crowded space; from being enmeshed with modern urban infrastructure to being untouched by it; from being a part of an ecological system of water conservation to being disconnected from both plant life and water systems. I find that these urban spaces belong either to a process of territorialisation by the neighbourhood or its de-territorialisation by the government. The territorialisation occurs when people start to create a community space around the tree. The deterritorialisation happens when the government widens a road or builds a flyover and the katte is eliminated from the urbanising landscape.

About the Speaker
Kiran Keswani is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in Urban design at the School of Architecture & Planning, CEPT University, Ahmedabad. Her research focuses on the Informality of Urban space as an outcome of Everyday practices.