I have an overarching interest in how individuals engage with the digital and material worlds through stories and practices. I combine ethnography, visual analysis, media and social media study to examine the relationship between consumers, cultures, and markets. 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 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 ‘Decolonizing 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 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 augment craft production and consumption in Rajasthan, India as well as provide 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 consumer insights to your research and create or validate existing approaches in UX or Consumer Research, please reach out to me here.
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.
Consumer Culture and Commodities
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Introduction to Cultural Studies
Research Methodology – Select Modules
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)
Kenyon Review Writers Workshop 2019 (Teaching Fellow, Literary Nonfiction)
Kenyon-IITM Writing Workshop 2018, 2019, 2020 (Teaching Assistant, Fiction)
Invited Presentations at Conferences and Workshops
2021 “#Strongnotskinny: Gender, Body and Community on Instagram”, Keynote Lecture: “Annual Academic Conference (Theme: Spatiality), Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India. Apr 10.
2020 “From eco-friendly to ecohabitus: Sustainable consumption and Class in Urban India”, Invited participant, International Conference-Workshop: “Good Life” and Development, Department of Global Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. (postponed due to COVID-19).
2020 “Project CRAFT”, Invited participant, International Conference: International Heritage Symposium & Exhibition, National Museum, New Delhi, Jan 15-16.
2018 “Self, Materiality, and the Digital in the #100sareepact”, Invited participant, International Conference: 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 “‘Who Needs an Occasion to Wear a Sari? Every Day Is a Celebration’”: Narratives of the Self and Sari in Urban/Social Media”, Invited participant, International Conference–Workshop: Visualizing Kin: Representing Kinship and Family in Contemporary Asia, Contemporary India Study Centre Aarhus (CISCA), Aarhus University, Denmark, May 20.
2015 “The Dancing Sari: The Aesthetics of Nationalism in the Case of the Kalakshetra Sari”, Invited participant, International Conference: Critical Costume Conference, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Finland, Mar 25–27.
2014 “Telling Sari Stories: (re)-Appropriations of Dress and the Politics of Identity in Urban South India”, Invited participant, International Conference: Annual Costume Committee Meeting, International Council of Museums, Greece, Sept 7–13.
2014 “Dismantling Modernities: Urban Tamil Women and their Sartorial Selves”, Invited participant, International Summer School: Multiple Modernities, University of Göttingen, Germany, Sep 1-5.
Conferences and Workshops Organized
2021 Crafts, Tourism and the Pandemic – Gauging the Current Status, Workshop, Coordinator, Project CRAFT, India. Mar 16. (online).
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 Cultural Elites in Contemporary India: Constructions and Deconstructions – International Conference & Workshop, Organiser, Contemporary India Study Centre Aarhus (CISCA), Aarhus University, Denmark, May 5–6.
2015 “Studying Religion in the Global Age: Mediation, Transformation, and Reception in Transnational Modernities”, Organizer, Ph.D. Course, Aarhus University, Denmark, Mar 23-25.
HS316, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Computer Science and Engineering Block
Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur
Karwar – 342037, Rajasthan