SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Grammar Games: Design thinking in Colonial India

Parvez Kabir (Santiniketan, India)

Date: 8 February 2012Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 8 February 2012Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B111

Type of Event: Seminar

This paper aims to investigate the tools with which people made sense of Indian design in the 19th century. It looks at the modes and means of classifying, systematizing and ordering materials in the colonial archive, which led to the invention of what we may call the grammar of Indian design. Once discovered and defined, this grammar came to play a major role in providing a logical framework to the practice of pattern making across artefacts, as well as setting the criteria of authenticity and taste in Indian design. It is however, this very grammar that would be subjected to various criticism, resistance and gamely subversions in its course of development, until it undergoes a concrete revision in the 20th century. Taking examples from architecture and decorative patterns from various arts, this paper will try to narrate its history and demonstrate how knowledge and power operated in the field of design in colonial India.

Organiser: Crispin Branfoot

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