Adhitya Dhanapal

Graduate Student

Dissertation Title:
Shaping an Artisanal Future: Decolonization, Development and the Handloom Weavers of Madras, 1904 – 64

Adhitya studies the handloom textile economy in Southern India between 1900-1965. His PhD dissertation looks at how the production and consumption of certain 'craft' objects were integral to the formation of a national, mostly Gandhian and a regional, Dravidian political movement in modern India. The dissertation investigates how small-scale weavers overcame the obstacles of colonialism and large-scale industrial capitalism by organizing themselves as co-operatives or caste associations to tap into domestic and international markets. This dissertation seeks to emphasize the centrality of small businesses in the development of capitalism and the dynamics of (de)colonization in 20th century India.

Prior to joining Princeton University, Adhitya received a MA in Art History and a MPhil in History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He was also involved with the Multi-Volume Documentation Project of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly, the Viceroy's House) that extensively documented, catalogued and conducted research on various art/craft objects and architectural features that forms the estate of the President of India.

In addition to his PhD research, Adhitya also works at Princeton's Firestone Library where he supports the curation and cataloging of the South Asia Collections. This relates to his interests in how art, craft, and other objects create and present alternative ways of understanding and experiencing the world around us. 

Degree Year
Year of Study
Degree Candidate
Area of Interest
Art History
Colonialism & Post Colonialism
Economic History
Social History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
20th Century