Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationBrown U.
Grant numberGr. 10435
Approve DateOctober 11, 2022
Project TitleMoral, Radhika (Brown U.) "Silk Frontiers: Weaving, Work, and the Politics of Belonging in Northeast India"
This project investigates how the production and transformation of silk shape political struggles in northeast India. It examines what happens when a nationally inflected commodity revitalization agenda transforms a small-scale industry through an interplay of hegemonic business mechanisms, subnational belonging, and women’s work. For a long time now, the ancient aesthetic associations of silk in Assam have precluded the complex realities and the vulnerabilities it engenders. Who weaves, under what circumstances, and how their craft determines social, political, and existential belonging are questions that assume significance in a world increasingly divided by competing and contesting claims of belonging. Foregrounding the work of artisans, this project explores the alignments and incongruities between weavers, often a patronizing state and, consumers and elite entrepreneurs. What conceptions of identity, rights, and aspirations emerge for such communities in an increasingly precarious landscape? Finally, how is women’s work is mobilized in the production of a (ethnolinguistic class-based) homeland?