For research into the production and distribution of Ashiqa, an illuminated manuscript from the time of the Mughal emperor, Akbar. This study of the material aspects of the manuscript is expected to yield important new insights into the polity, economy and culture of the Mughal era. The research will result in a Power Point presentation documenting the Mughal manuscript industry and the Imperial library, and a book on manuscriptology.
For research into the diverse constructions and reinventions of the Ramayana epic with specific focus on seven performance traditions and two contemporary reinterpretations. The project seeks to provide a textured and contextual study of the various manifestations of the epic within specific ritual, social and performative contexts. The outcomes will include a series of presentations and an essay.
For research into India’s disparate botanical art traditions, focusing on four colonial botanical texts ranging from the seventeenth-century Hortus Indicus Malabaricus to the nineteenth-century Flora Indica. The research will involve matching the texts with what exists in the gardens, and making visible the unnamed indigenous botanical artists of Company paintings as well as the variations in botanical iconography across diverse print media: engravings, watercolours, and lithographs. This research is part of a larger project to document an Indian botanical ‘Ark-ive’ or a visual genealogy of botanical arts traditions on the printed page. The outcome will be a website.
For analysing the phenomenon of the emergence of satellite television in the 1990s, which was a crucial factor in Kerala’s social life. By exploring the cultural history of the Malayalam satellite channel Asianet, the project attempts to understand how television is instrumental in refashioning the modern political subject in post-colonial contexts. The outcome will be a monograph.
For documenting the complex and conflicted history of the evolution of the Malayalam script in the computer era through the exploration of the Rachana movement in Kerala. Outcomes of the project will include a free and open Malayalam font based on the original script, a website archiving published material related to the language campaign for the original script, and a book printed in this script narrating the history, evolution and present status of the Malayalam Lipi and Unicode language technology.
For researching the development and changes in the Lounda Nach performances in Bihar since the 1990s. The project aims to primarily explore the influence of CD culture and the film and cassette industries on Lounda Nach to understand how the aesthetics of this art form and its engagement with audiences have evolved. The outcome will be a book.
For a film exploring the musical traditions of the Old Town in Ladakh as a representative of life and connections between generations, through oral histories, archival data, investigation of Monastic festivals and interviews with young contemporary musicians.
For research on a community of sculptors who create the popular Swamimalai bronze idols. The project is aimed at understanding how even as a traditional art form is appropriated by governmental institutions, the traditional community both capitalises on and competes with the support these institutions offer. It will further investigate how sculptors negotiate with notions of ‘tradition’, ‘identity’ and ‘commerce’ viewed through the lens of the neoliberal craft industry in India. The outcome of this project will be a monograph-length essay.
For a film exploring the subculture of B-boying and Breaking as an Indian form of contemporary street dance, that will focus on the performers at Khirki village, New Delhi, a volatile melting pot of Jats, Biharis, Nigerians, Afghanis, and struggling artists which is shaping the area’s youth in the unlikeliest of ways.
For exploring the contours of feminist street theatre as a genre, with its specificities and aims, its own language and methods, aesthetics and conceptual underpinnings as an integral part of the Indian women’s movement during the 1980s in Delhi. The outcomes will include a book and a CD.