Taxonomic panic and the art of “making do” at a heritage site: The case of Hampi UNESCO site, India

  • Natalia Bloch
Keywords: Hampi, India, UNESCO World Heritage site, tourism, heritage, spatial cleansing, taxonomic panic, local practices


The article seeks reasons behind the “spatial cleansing” that was initiated at the Hampi UNESCO World Heritage site in India in 2011, and resulted in a significant number of residents being evicted. The local authorities, supported by archaeological bodies and tourism agencies, first targeted the medieval bazaar where people lived and worked within an informal tourism sector. I argue that this was the outcome of a “taxonomic panic”, caused by the fear by authorities of a “confusion of categories”. I analyse how the official representations of Hampi’s landscape, created by archaeologists and tourism specialists, reveal this panic. I also demonstrate how the residents of a disappearing village responded to the authorities’ way of imagining and managing the site by employing different practices of making do. The article is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Hampi as well as on secondary data.