Shubhasree Purkayastha

Archival and Museum Fellowships
2016-2017

Grant Period: over a period of one year

Shubhasree Purkayastha is currently a MPhil research scholar of Visual Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU. Her thesis focuses on the cultural iconography of Brahmanism in ancient and medieval Assam and explores the interactions of Brahmanism with the older tribal cultures of the Northeast. She has worked with the National Museum in New Delhi and has been a part of the team for large exhibitions like From Cosmology to Carthography: A Cultural Journey of Indian Maps.

For this fellowship, Shubhasree proposes to address and prove untrue the long held notion that regional histories develop in isolation and have separate historical trajectories. She will attempt to establish through her research that the region of ancient Assam in its pre-Ahom period, was an important player in the creation of the larger historical narrative of India. She will also highlight the influence of multiple cultural contacts as reflected in the region’s artistic heritage - from the Sanskritising wave of Northern India to local/tribal influences from within the Northeast - which eventually led to the development of a composite and unique visual culture in Assam.

The outcome will be a series of events like lectures, small exhibitions around objects that will then feed into a large temporary exhibition at the end of the fellowship period. It is also proposed that the exhibition travels to other museums in the northeastern region in due course, thus creating a network of collaborations. The Fellow’s deliverables to IFA with the final report will be process images, images of the exhibition, audio recordings, and texts and publication, if any.

One of the objectives of the Archival and Museum fellowships is to build a network of collaborations in fairly unexplored regions like the Northeast of India and we hope that these fellowships are a step in that direction.

This grant was made possible with support from the Tata Trusts.