Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, History and Theory of Architecture & Urbanism, Princeton University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History/Architecture, Princeton University
Substituting Modernity: Architectural Materials and Subaltern Building in Postcolonial India

My dissertation research examines the impact of new, industrial materials such as cement, chemical paint and plastic on architectural production in postcolonial India. Rather than focus solely on their visual qualities or expression in built works, I look to the use of architectural materials in two moments of technological and social transition, including their popularization following Independence in 1947, and their incorporation into subaltern practices of design and building after liberalization in the 1980's. The project contends that in conditions of technological delay and instability after Independence, malleable, easy-to use industrial materials allowed architects and lay people to reproduce modern design by substituting otherwise unavailable technologies and expertise. After contextualizing debates over the use of new materials in the decades surrounding Independence, ethnographic fieldwork in Bangalore will account for how materials allow poor and upwardly mobile classes to adapt and transform new images of modern design, dislodging materials from their historical role in the modernization projects of the state, industry and architectural profession. In considering industrial materials from their introduction to their use in everyday settings of design and construction, I aim to show how the changing material conditions of architecture opened up modern design to new users and publics in India.