SOAS University of London

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

Anais Da Fonseca

MA History of Art (Paris X, UCL, JNU New Delhi) BA History of Art (Paris X)
  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research


Anais Da Fonseca
Ms Anais Da Fonseca
Email address:
Thesis title:
Contemporary Lives of Cherial Paintings from Telangana, India: Continuity and Changes
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors

External Supervisors

Dr. Naman Ahuja (JNU New Delhi), Dr. Valérie Gillet (EFEO Pondicherry)

PhD Research

The research focuses on a living tradition of painting from Cheriyal, in Telangana, India. These paintings are originally scrolls that performers would carry along with them as a visual help to the storytelling of local caste Puranas (stories). These are part of a very conventional system of production that involves patrons, storytellers and painters. In the last thirty years, a shift in patronage brought Cheriyal painting to museums and the handicraft market. This process of institutionalisation had an impact on the paintings’ function, materiality and iconography. This research explores the transformation of an on-going tradition and looks at the evolution of the painting tradition in this context of socio-political change since the 1980s. It is a historical and social study of art, where the main axis is the correlation between the materiality of the paintings and their environment of production, presentation and reception.

Fieldwork for this research was supported by fieldwork awards from the EFEO Pondicherry, the Nehru Trust for the Indian Collection at the V&A, and SOAS London. Affiliation was offered by the EFEO Pondicherry and JNU New Delhi. In Cheriyal and Hyderabad, Anais worked directly with the artists, documenting their techniques and collecting information about various commissions. These commissions were then tracked within museums and othe cultural institutions in India. Finally, government organisations, crafts emporiums, NGOs, and private collectors were interrogated in what they contributed to the definition of the Cheriyal painting tradition.


  • “Contemporary Lives of Cherial Paintings from Telangana India: Notes on the Relations between Fieldwork and Thesis Structures,” in SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, Vol. 8, 2015.


  • “Contemporary Cherial Paintings from Telangana India: Negotiating Tradition and Changes,” The Past Before Us: Heritage and History in South Asia, South Asia Institute SOAS, London, September 2016.
  • “Replication and Innovation in the Folk Narratives of Telangana: Scroll Paintings of the Markandeya Purana 1625-2000,” 24th European Conference on South Asian Studies, University of Warsaw, July 2016.
  • “Beyond Temple Paintings: Towards an Alternative History of the Telangana Scroll,” European Association for South Asian Art and Archaeology Conference 2016, Welch School of Architecture Cardiff, July 2016.
  • “Modernism and Tradition in the Visual Arts of South Asia,” The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia Guest Lecture, SOAS London, February 24, 2016.
  • “Contemporary Cheriyal Paintings from Telangana India: Continuity and Changes,” Indian Art Circle Lecture Series, SOAS London, March 2, 2016.
  • “Contemporary Lives of Cheriyal Paintings from Telangana India: Continuity and Change,” Art History Spring Research Forum, SOAS London, May 5, 2015.


  • European Association for South Asian Studies (EASAS)
  • European Association for South Asian Archaeology and Art (EASAA)
  • British Association for South Asian Studies (BASA)
  • Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society    
  • Affiliation to the EFEO Pondicherry (Ecole Française d’Extrême Orient) from Oct. 2013 to Sept. 2014
  • Affiliation to Jawaharlal Nehru University from Oct. 2013 to Oct. 2014


  • Themes in the History of Art and Archaeology of South and Southeast Asia (UG)
  • Theory of Art History and Archaeology (UG)


  • History of Art
  • Visual Anthropology
  • Indian art and visual culture
  • Folklore and performances
  • South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art
  • South Asian crafts and textiles