Locating my work in the intersections between Material and Visual Culture, I have an overarching interest in how people engage with and produce meaning from their material worlds through stories and practices. With consonant interests in craft, clothing, heritage and gender, I combine ethnography, visual analysis, media study and archival work to examine the relationship between material and social life, the body, politics and markets.
I began research in material culture with an investigation of clothing as a site where semiotic expression, bodily practices, the boundaries between the self and the world are navigated. My doctoral project examined how the sari is a space for contested identities through a cultural analysis of its mutations in colonial and postcolonial urban India entailing ethnographic, archival, media and social media study. I have published peer reviewed articles on this research and am currently preparing a monograph on the modern sari. Please reach out to me here if you have trouble finding any of my work.
In my current research project titled ‘Decolonising Craft Narratives in the Postcolonial State: Craft as Material Culture in India‘, I explore how craft in usage and practice is a site for the generation of meaning and value for various actors in the Indian craft world. Using insights from ethnographic fieldwork in India contextualised using visual, media, and archival analysis, I am interested in how affective tropes of the handmade, authentic and traditional interact with mechanisation and industrialisation 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 decolonise craft discourse by moving away from West-centric concepts and theories about craft and industrialisation and be at the forefront of the emerging field of Craft Studies.
I am 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 digitisation 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 and Search algorithms controlled by Big Tech.
A through-line in all my research projects is the relationship between aesthetics, social and material life; aesthetics understood here not merely as a preoccupation with the ‘beautiful’ or ‘decorative’ but in the larger sense of being embedded in and informing the modalities, practices and infrastructures of people’s lives.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
Sharma, Kaamya. 2020. “Hand-crafted identities: Sartorial taste and belonging amongst elite women in urban India”. Journal of Material Culture. 25 (1): 60-75. Link
Sharma, Kaamya. 2019. “The Orientalisation of the Sari: Sartorial Praxis and Womanhood in Colonial and Post-Colonial India”. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 42 (2): 219-36. Link
Sharma, Kaamya. 2017. “How to Dress a National Elite: The Case of the Kalakshetra Sari”. International Quarterly for Asian Studies (48): 33-53. Link
Refereed Book Chapters
Sharma, Kaamya and Kannan, Smruthi Bala. 2018. “On Weaving an Interschool Inclusive Event”. Inclusive Education in India: Concepts, Methods and Practice, Eds. Brahme, Milind, Babu, Suresh M. and Müller, Thomas, New Delhi: Mosaic Books.
The Scent of Happiness: A Novel. R. Vatsala. Translated from Tamil by K. Srilata and Kaamya Sharma. (Ratna Books, New Delhi, 2021) ISBN-13:9788194756040
Sharma, Kaamya. “John Forbes Watson’s Devastating Catalogue of Indian Textiles”. The Hindu Sunday Magazine. 2nd August 2020. Link
Sharma, Kaamya and Srinivasan, Arvind. “Thoothukudi Custodial Deaths: A Dangerous Blind Spot”. The Hindu Business Line. 9 July 2020. Link
Sharma, Kaamya. “The Rules of the Game: Weaving Durries in Rajasthan”. Garland Magazine, World Crafts Council, Australia. 27 Feb 2020. Link
Peter Taylor Fellowship, Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop (Literary Nonfiction), Kenyon College, 2019.
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, 2017-2019.
Erasmus IBIES Doctoral Scholarship (Ph.D. Fellowship from the Erasmus Inter -disciplinary Bridges for Indo-European Studies, European Union), 2013–2016.
Institute Merit Prize for Best Academic Record (Integrated M.A.), Indian Institute of Technology Madras, 2010.
Kenyon Review Writers Workshop 2019 (Teaching Fellow, Literary Nonfiction)
Kenyon-IITM Writing Workshop 2018, 2019, 2020 (Teaching Assistant, Fiction)
Consumer Culture and Commodities
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Introduction to Cultural Studies
Research Methodology – Close Reading and Textual Analysis
Women in India—Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
Perspectives in Literary and Language Studies
Regional Literature in Translation
Appreciating Carnatic Music (teaching assistant) (Online open course)
Conferences and Workshops (Organizer)
2020 Coordinator, International Workshop: Kenyon-IITM Writing Workshop, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India, Dec 13-18 (online).
2019 Fellow-at-Large, International Workshop: Kenyon-IITM Writing Workshop, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, Dec 16-20.
2019 Peter Taylor Fellow, International Workshop: Kenyon Review Writers Workshop (Literary Nonfiction), Gambier, Ohio, June 16-22.
2018 Organizer, International Workshop: Kenyon-IITM Writing Workshop, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, Dec 10-14.
2015 Organizer and participant, International Conference–Workshop: “How to Dress a National Elite: The Case of the Kalakshetra Sari”. Cultural Elites in India, Contemporary India Study Centre Aarhus (CISCA), Aarhus University, Denmark, May 5–6.
2015 Organizer, Ph.D. Course on “Studying Religion in the Global Age: Mediation, Transformation, and Reception in Transnational Modernities”, Aarhus University, Denmark, Mar 23-25.
Conferences and Workshops (Participant)
2020 Invited participant, International Conference-Workshop: “From eco-friendly to ecohabitus: Sustainable consumption and Class in Urban India”. “Good Life” and Development, Department of Global Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. (postponed due to COVID-19).
2020 Invited participant, International Conference: “Project CRAFT”. International Heritage Symposium & Exhibition, National Museum, New Delhi, Jan 15-16.
2018 Invited participant, International Conference: “Self, Materiality, and the Digital in the #100sareepact”. Digital Humanities in India, Digital Humanities Alliance of India (DHAI), Indian Institute of Technology Indore. June 1-2. (Accepted but unable to attend)
2017 Invited participant, International Workshop: Kenyon Review Writers Workshop (Literary Nonfiction), Gambier, Ohio. June 17-24.
2016 Invited participant, International Conference–Workshop: “‘Who Needs an Occasion to Wear a Sari? Every Day Is a Celebration’”: Narratives of the Self and Sari in Urban/Social Media” Visualizing Kin: Representing Kinship and Family in Contemporary Asia, Contemporary India Study Centre Aarhus (CISCA), Aarhus University, Denmark, May 20.
2015 Invited participant, International Conference: “The Dancing Sari: The Aesthetics of Nationalism in the Case of the Kalakshetra Sari”. Critical Costume Conference, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Finland, Mar 25–27.
2014 Invited participant, International Conference: “Telling Sari Stories: (re)-Appropriations of Dress and the Politics of Identity in Urban South India”. Annual Costume Committee Meeting, International Council of Museums, Greece, Sept 7–13.
2014 Invited participant, International Summer School: “Dismantling Modernities: Urban Tamil Women and their Sartorial Selves”, Multiple Modernities, University of Göttingen, Germany, Sep 1-5.
HS316, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Computer Science and Engineering Block
Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur
Karwar – 342037, Rajasthan