A History of Indian Craft: 1850s to the Present

MAP · April 14, 2022

Dive into the world of craft through this series of lectures, presented by Annapurna Garimella, and featuring notable practitioners and scholars such as Nadine Zubair, Nia Thandapani, Amanda Lanzillo, Laila Tyabji and Sudheer Rajbhar. If you’ve ever been curious about the popularity of blue jeans, sustainable consumerism or craftsperson-designer collaborations, this is your gateway to unravelling some of the complex histories in modern India. Beginning with 19th-century colonial developments in England and the Indian subcontinent, to contemporary movements, you will learn about the pivotal roles played by craft communities, designers, policymakers, collectors and activists in shaping the field. The course also considers how museums, schools, exhibitions, NGOs and the market shape historical narratives of craft, with reference to art, architecture, design and religious faith. 

Through this course, you will:

  1. Be introduced to the many ways of thinking about crafts and craftspeople.
  2. Learn about the impact of colonialism and industrialisation on craft practices during the 19th century.
  3. Understand the significance of crafts in the Indian freedom movement and in the conceptualisation of the nation.
  4. Gain insight into the multifaceted nature of craft and its evolving relationship with market structures and historical narratives.
  5. Recognise the roles of key figures in advocating for the recognition and empowerment of craftspeople.
  6. Explore contemporary initiatives aiming to reclaim control over the market and assert ownership of craft.

This Course presents recordings of lectures that took place between 21 February–20 March 2024 and was attended by 3000+ participants from around the world.

About the Lecturer

Annapurna Garimella is an art historian and designer. Her research focuses on late mediaeval Indic architecture and the history and practices of vernacular visual and built cultures in India after Independence. Dr Garimella is the Managing Trustee of the Art, Resources and Teaching Trust, which has a research library and conducts independent research and teaching. She also heads Jackfruit Research and Design, an organisation with a specialised portfolio of design, research and curation. Jackfruit’s recent curatorial projects include Mutable: Ceramic and Clay Art in India Since 1947 (Piramal Museum of Art, 2017) and The Past has a Home in the Future (Dhoomimal Gallery, Connaught Place, 2024). Her newest books are the co-edited Marg volume titled The Contemporary Hindu Temple: Fragments for a History (2019) and The Long Arc of South Asian Art: A Reader in Honor of Vidya Dehejia (Women Unlimited, 2022). Designing India 1947 to the Present; A Face on a Face: South Asian Masks in the Vaidya Collection; and Digesting the Past: The Discourse of Sacralized Architectural Renovation in Southern India (14th-17th Centuries) are book manuscripts under preparation.

Who is the Course for?

This Course is open to all. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, it offers something meaningful for everybody to take away. Additionally, this also includes slides developed by Dr Annapurna Garimella in dialogue with guest speakers, which are uploaded for the benefit of educators.


This Course is free of charge, and you can enrol today by registering through the link above.

How to navigate this Course?

  • This Course is divided into multiple lessons that consist of lectures by Dr Garimella and guest experts.
  • It is recommended that you go through the Course in sequential order.
  • As you go through the Course, you must complete a quiz at the end of each Lesson to check your progress and continue. 
  • At any point, you are welcome to participate in the Course Discussion Forum, where you can meet and engage with a community of online learners. 
  • Once you have registered, you can either click the ‘Start’ button at the top of this page, or the first Lesson below to begin. 
  • Using your login credentials, you should be able to re-enter the Course at any point through your computer, phone or tablet, and continue from where you left off.


This lecture series is presented by the MAP Academy and the Art, Resources & Teaching Trust (A.R.T.). 

Founded by Dr Garimella, A.R.T. manages a public art library, conducts independent research projects, and teaches and advises university students and the general public.


This project has also benefited from support of the Art & Photography Foundation, the Rural India Support Trust and the Infosys Foundation.

About the Guest Speakers

Dr Nadine Zubair

Dr Nadine Zubair is the Digital Humanities Manager at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of East Anglia (UEA). She has a PhD in South Asian architectural history from the Department of Art History and World Art Studies at UEA. Previously, she has completed an MSc in Information Systems Management from Carnegie Mellon University, an MA in South Asian Art History from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MA in South Asian archaeology from the University of Peshawar. Her dissertation title is “Material Histories and Wood-Carving: Fragments from Modern Punjab,” which was fully funded by the South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection (SADACC) in Norwich.

Nia Thandapani 

Nia Thandapani is a design historian and graphic designer, whose work focuses on colonial and post-independence design in the Indian subcontinent and the United Kingdom, specifically engaging with imperialism’s presence within museum and heritage spaces, and its impact on design practice and its outcomes. She is co-founder of Chandigarh Chairs, a long-term project that works towards a critical re-evaluation of the history of Chandigarh’s modernist furniture. As part of the collaborative duo Studio Carrom, Nia was a 2019 artist-in-residence at the William Morris Gallery in London and co-created the exhibition “Distant Fellowship” which explored and problematised Morris’s connections with South Asia. Nia’s creative work includes artist books, alternative museum guides, exhibitions and installations, and experimental zines.

Dr Amanda Lanzillo

Dr Amanda Lanzillo is Lecturer in South Asian History at Brunel University London, UK. She is an historian focused on the intersections of labour, religion and technology in colonial-era India. Her first book, Pious Labor: Islam, Artisanship, and Technology in Colonial India (University of California Press, 2024) examines Muslim artisan communities’ religious and material engagement with new industrial technologies in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century north India. Amanda holds a PhD in history from Indiana University, USA, and was previously a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton University Society of Fellows, USA. Her research has appeared in journals such as Modern Asian Studies, South Asia, and the Journal of Social History. Her public scholarship has been published by media organisations such as The Wire, Scroll, and Himal.

Laila Tyabji

Laila Tyabji is an Indian social worker, designer, writer and craft activist. She is co-founder and chairperson of Dastkar, a Society for Crafts & Craftspeople, and has been working in the crafts sector since 1978. She was awarded the Padma Shri award in 2012 for her extensive contributions to Indian crafts, and is the second-ever recipient and the first Asian to receive the Aid to Artisans Preservation of Craft Award in New York in 2003.

Sudheer Rajbhar

Sudheer Rajbhar is a Mumbai-based artist, activist and designer. He is the founder of Chamar Studio, an emerging design studio and leatherworking cooperative based in Dharavi that works to overcome centuries of caste-based oppression and recently state-sanctioned leather bans. By replacing leather with recycled rubber from tire waste, Chamar Studio works with Dalit and Muslim leatherworkers to create items such as bags and shoes. He is represented by Gallery æquō and his works have been exhibited at PAD Paris, Serendipity Art Festival and Clark House. He is also the recipient of Royal Ontario Museum’s 2021–22 I ARTS Textiles of India Grant along with Sajdeep Soomal.

About Instructor


6 Courses

+1122 enrolled

Course Includes

  • 10 Lessons
  • 9 Quizzes
  • Certificate of Completion