Handcrafting in India was indigenous and intuitive. In due course, it became an effective tool for political and much later social justice. Mahatma Gandhi instilled the doctrines of Swadeshi, as part of his visionary path towards non-violence. This inspired the use of native products and empowered the rural masses. An immediate response to this was an enormous resistance towards foreign produces, fuelling the historic ‘Quit India Movement’, an incredible milestone in India’s struggle for freedom. A propel was witnessed post-independence in the Indian handloom and handicraft sectors, in the early 1950s. This, supported by the strategies of the new government, turned everyday objects (like the humble clothing) into agents of social change. Similarly, Khadi was not just an initiative to generate employment for the huge rural populace; it was a prelude to the gradual shift towards sustainable fashion, championed by fair trade and eco-friendly processes.
The research at hand uses ‘narrative enquiry’ both as a method and methodology. As the central idea of the paper follows “co-creation”, a participatory research approach becomes the natural course. Within the participatory model, the researcher conducted workshops with artisans and designers and exchanged dialogues with NGOs. It includes secondary data on ‘craftivism’ that stirs up debate around ‘social justice’ by deconstructing prevalent global discourses. These in India are inherently colonial, gendered and point towards the absence of social mobility for craft communities. The secondary data in the form of ‘case studies’ provides the much needed theoretical framework to study the contemporary practices in craft and how they could be applied in an India context. The study uses a multi-method approach comprising of in-depth interviews and ‘co-creation’ practices (with artisans and designers). The human stories of ground-breaking achievements by rural artisans provide an alternative insight in challenging the societal clichés while shaping the shifting ideas.
Palit, S. (2020). Indigenous practices and activism: Challenging the social algorithm in India. https://oaks.kent.edu/node/12112
Palit, Sreenanda. 2020. “Indigenous Practices and Activism: Challenging the Social Algorithm in India”. https://oaks.kent.edu/node/12112.
Palit, S. Indigenous Practices and Activism: Challenging the Social Algorithm in India. June 2020, https://oaks.kent.edu/node/12112.