Our Course

Indigenous Knowledge & Communities is a course about communities and traditional knowledge. This course explores ideas, concepts and issues around indigenous cultures to identify popular perspectives on Indigenous people and contemporary practices. It aims at establishing an understanding of cultural and social hierarchies, and draws from instances within pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial histories, which as milestones guide existing outlooks on Indigenous people. The discussions and approach adopted by this course analyze dominant perspectives on cultural identity, “cultural practices”, “development”, “cultural assimilation” and cultural difference. The course approaches these discussions through experiential understanding and engages with an identified community around Pune. Students will survey/research and interact with an Indigenous/Tribal/Adivasi group and collect data, conduct field research and make observations on the community’s lifestyles and worldviews, socio-economic engagements, rituals and customs, contemporary creative practices and cultural production. In exploring their arts, crafts, performances and oral traditions as traditional knowledge and cultural production this course proposes to identify ways of repositioning the identified marginalized community in contemporary society.

BACKGROUND

This course aims at initiating an understanding and discussion of the impact of socio-economic and administrative structures and governance on Indigenous/Tribal/Adivasi people and Indigenous creativity/cultural expression. It includes references to contemporary representation of Indigenous arts and artists in Museums and elite discourses. In reviewing the great debate of representation of non-classical, non-western and non-academic cultural and creative production that emerges outside of elite communities, this course focuses on the “living traditions” of India. With intent of proposing ideas and views to appropriately represent Indigenous creative practices as contemporary practices and Indigenous people as contemporary artists in their own right, this course seeks to propose appropriate platforms and means of livelihoods from creative practices.

The course involves intense engagement and field visits around Pune, to Adivasi hamlets as well as local museums, galleries and libraries.

Objectives – It is expected students will learn the following on successful completion of this course

  1. Understand issues pertaining to Social and Cultural hierarchies and difference
  2. Understand issues pertaining to race, ethnicity and cultural identity
  3. Understand pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial approaches to Adivasi people and “development”
  4. Understand ethnographic field research methods
  5. Understand visuals and objects as symbols of cultures, traditions, myths and text
  6. Understand Indigenous arts, crafts and culture
  7. Understand and appreciate ideas as visuals/objects/narratives
  8. Understand the major styles and trends of creative practices and production through time and place
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