As a qualitative researcher who has worked with academia, industry and governments, I have an enduring interest in how individuals engage with the digital and material worlds. I combine ethnography, visual analysis, media and social media study to examine the relationship between consumers/users, cultures, and markets. I prioritize flexible research designs adapting the right combination of research methods to address specific issues in context.
Focusing on sari ‘revival’ movements on social media, my doctoral project was an anthropological examination of the sari as a space for contested identities through a cultural analysis of its mutations in colonial and postcolonial urban India. I have published peer reviewed articles on this research and am currently writing a book about the modern sari.
In my current research project titled ‘Decolonizing Craft Narratives: Craft as Material Culture in India‘, I explore how various actors in the Indian craft world create meaning and value through the use and practice of craft. Drawing on insights from ethnographic fieldwork in India contextualized using visual, media, and archival analysis, I am interested in how tropes of the handmade, authentic and traditional interact with mechanization and industrialization in the craft world. As a member of the Editorial Board for Garland, I am in dialogue with craft practitioners and researchers across the world. Through this research, I hope to be at the forefront of the emerging field of Craft Studies.
I have drawn on my research to create Project CRAFT, a collaborative venture to create digital tools which will augment craft production and consumption in Rajasthan, India as well as enable access to digital tools for craft producers with limited digital literacy. I am also interested in an open-ended exploration of digital tools and their uses in the domain of culture. At present, I am examining the politics, modes, and challenges of using digital tools to archive Intangible Cultural Heritage, especially the textile heritage of nineteenth century Britain and India. With this research, I hope to push our imagination of digitization of textiles past the visual to capture the haptic dimensions of material. I also plan to explore the use of Computer Vision and Machine Learning for the ethnography of Visual Social Media moving away from Big Data approaches towards culturally sensitive qualitative research.
If you’re a company looking to bring theoretically sound insights to your research and create or validate existing approaches in Qualitative Research, please reach out to me.