Asia Scholar

India, China, Japan


I have grown up in India within an orthodox religious community. I went on to do my PhD on the material culture of low income families in New Delhi. My readings and writings have dealt with materiality, food and practices of social groups – work I refer to as ‘the social object’ focussing upon the sociality of material artefacts.


I have worked in Japan at Hitachi. I speak Japanese. Embedded within factories and in-house design studio settings I have imbibed manufacturing culture and corporate responses to consumption practices of populations. I have respect for the traditional culture of Japan and for the making practice that channel this culture towards material making. I have studied the making practices at both the craft and the hi-tech masspro scales to realize common threads in how making is performed at different scales.


I then fell in love with China in 2005, and travelled repeatedly to soak in the negotiations underway at the intersection of tradition and modernity. Privileging the manufacturing regions of the south, Guangdong province and the Pearl River Delta, I was immersed in texts and walked the long march as I followed the travails of the women who marched. I now have a deep affection for an idiosyncratic understanding of material culture practice. My knowledge acquired through readings and podcasts is brought to the fore when I am requested by my Chinese collaborators to recount historical incidents only accessible outside China.

South and South East Asia

I spent time as the regional editor for South and South East Asia on the International Project “The Encyclopedia of Asian Design” (Bloomsbury Publishers, London). I am now connected to the design and art community in every country from Pakistan to Timor Leste. I have travelled to many of these countries and participated in meetings – physically, textually on the web through facebook/ email/ LinkedIn/ Twitter/ whatsApp, in audio conversation through skype/hangouts/viber – with many people. Some of these people are contributing to the project, many others helped me find people who could contribute. Thats about 200 contributors and another 200 people who I have spoken with (badgered) and asked for help. I have a database of peers – designers, gallery curators, museum based researches, anthropologists, artists, academics, activists, theorists – and have developed this fascination for each country in this patch. I have old maps of Asia (somewhere in this blog), I have transferred this passion/this love for Asia to many students. I have read when When Asia was the World, watched 13th Warrior depict Ibn Fadlan through the persona of a corpulent Antonio Banderas and listened to Tim Macintosh-Smith narrate the travels of Ibn Battuta and ended up with looking at the world with Asian Eyes – and agreed with Eliot “That is not it, at all” (in Prufrock).