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Colonial Traditions - Village Modernities

Making the Artisan in Rural Indian Subcontinent

Published May 2022

This project explores the creation of the artisan in the space of the village in the Indian subcontinent as a product of colonial modernity. It investigates nineteenth century theorization of the village, its spatial reorganization and reforms meant to support the aesthetic and political economy. The relationship between artisanal work and the village was drawn through historic narratives of ancestral and religious ties as well as the native’s instinct towards craft. Studies were conducted on the artistic behavioural patterns of the villagers which were then documented in various reports and publications of the time.

These written documents create an episteme that justifies violent interventions on the bodies and spaces of native communities. Exhibitions were also implemented to present an ocular demonstration of the impact of colonial rule in this successful transformation. These Reforms were meant to subjugate the communities and render them productive to the economic framework by creating cycles of dependency through financial reforms and artisanal training. I explore these reforms through journals and reports in an attempt to re-examine the violence of the document through a series of pamphlets. This format was used by resistance movements of nineteenth and twentieth centuries in their struggle to fill the gaps of history left by the dominant narratives.