Inside-Outside: Spatial Connotations of the Urban Culture of the Newars. Conversations with Niels Gutschow

Upcoming Events Login

Thursday, April 26th, 2018 – Friday, April 27th, 2018

Thursday, April 26, 201810:00AM - 12:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
Thursday, April 26, 20182:00PM - 4:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
Friday, April 27, 20184:00PM - 6:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
+ Register for this Event Print this Event Bookmark this Event


Each talk is expected to take an hour or a bit more. The presentations are divided into three sessions each in order to allow communication at an early moment. Interruptions are welcome.

1. Domestic Space (Thursday, April 26 10am – 12pm)
An introduction into the anthropology of habitation (German “Wohnen”, “Behausung”) or dwelling which in a western context has to do with changing demands and aspirations, with taste and life style. The 20th century turned the obvious into a question of education.
The presentation reflects the recent experience in the western world (1), in contrast to the way the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley use domestic space, inside and outside (2) and how much this changed within the present generation (3).

2. Urban Space and Ritual of Bhaktapur (Thursday, April 26 2pm – 4pm)
The Mesocosm of the city, a term used by Robert Levy to describe an “organized meaningful world intermediate to the microcosmic worlds of individuals and the culturally conceived macrocosm, the universe, at whose center the city lies”. The presentation focusses on the Navadurga and Astamatrka in their manifold manifestations: the definition of urban space by the aniconic seats (pitha) of the Eight Mother Goddesses (1), the Nine Durgas as human actors, their rebirth on the Victorious Tenth Day (in October) (2), and their representation as a group (gana) of Virgin deities, Kumaris (3).

3. Earthquake and Rebuilding (Friday, April 27 4pm – 6pm)
Earthquakes causes renewal in regular intervals. The last earthquakes in 1833, 1934 and the most recent one in 2015 resulted in loss of domestic structures, temples and human life (380 in Bhaktapur 2015). In historic times, new temples replaced the lost ones at the same place, fragments were discarded. At present the philosophy (or ideology) of architectural conservation demands the rescue of the smallest fragments in order to ensure the material authenticity. Repairs and replacement are mandatory. The presentation recalls earlier projects of conservation in 1971 and 1990 (1), and focusses on the craftsmen (whose ancestors once shaped the originals) as the embodiment of “authentic, living heritage” (2), and the act of recreating lost iconographical details (3), considered in the west as the fall in conservation practice.

Niels Gutschow, born in 1941 in Hamburg, Germany, studied architecture in Darmstadt and completed his PhD in 1973 about the early 17th century urban history of Japan (The Castle Town – Jokamachi). He visited Nepal first in 1962 and since 1970 he keeps working there as a conservation architect and architectural historian focusing of urban space and ritual (publications in 1974, 1975, 1882 and 2017) and architecture (The Nepalese Caitya, 1997 and The Architecture of the Newars, 2011). At present he is associated with the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, aiming at the rebuilding of ten buildings at Patan’s Darbar Square, of which four totally collapsed in the 2015 earthquake. As Honorary Professor he is associated with the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University.


Mayumi Yamaguchi


Christoph Emmrich
Director, Centre for South Asian Studies

Niels Gutschow
Professor, Department of Culture and Religious History of Asia, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

If you are attending a Munk School event and require accommodation(s), please email the event contact listed above to make appropriate arrangements.

Disclaimer: Please note that events posted on this website are considered to be public events – unless otherwise stated – and you are choosing to enter a space where your image and/or voice may be captured as part of event proceedings that may be made public as part of a broadcast, webcast, or publication (online and in print). We make every effort to ensure your personal information is kept and used in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). If you have any questions please get in touch with our office at or 416-946-8900.

Newsletter Signup Sign up for the Munk School Newsletter

× Strict NO SPAM policy. We value your privacy, and will never share your contact info.