Craft, Labour, Science: Making knowledge with Practitioners
Date : 26th July 2019 - 29th July 2019

The French Institute of Pondicherry and the Practice Collective will be conducting a series of Workshops with different practitioners on the theme of Craft, Labour and Science, from the 26th to the 29th of August, 2019.

The objective of the workshop is to explore, through participation and demonstration of the practitioners, engaged in different craft and artisanal occupations, that are usually considered traditional. Boat making, fish work, musical instrument making, sculpting and coding are the practices that we will investigate as a group, by traveling to the actual sites of practice during the workshop. The exercise will be focused on investigating the nature of the relationship between knowledge and routine labour that is integral to these crafts, in relation to the changes that each have experienced over the last decades, with respect to tools, design, market and labour processes.

How do we understand the changing modes of craft and artisanal work, at their own sites, is the shared concern that will bring in participants from different parts of the country, with diverse motivations and interests. The overarching focus of these workshops will be to reflect on various possible modes in which the labour process and practice can be recorded and reconstructed in a way that renders strength to the practitioners’ quest for dignified livelihoods. Through focusing on all forms of knowledge making as a composite of craft, labour and science, we seek to examine these categories and the political role they play in evaluation and valuation of traditional knowledge systems.

The participants will travel to Cuddalore to interact with boat makers and fish workers, then to Panruti, to interact with ‘thavil’ (drum used in Tamil Nadu) makers and players, to Swamimalai, near Kumbakonam to participate in a workshop with bronze sculptors for the first three days. On the last day, they will be in a workshop with software engineers on coding as a craft form, with a final afternoon session for reflections and discussion.

The Practice Collective, is a group of scholars, activists and practitioners of various trades and identities who have come together with a shared objective to foreground knowledge as an organizing principle for artisanal and craft workers in India, supplementing existing efforts which strive for their life and struggle for dignity.

For further information, please get in touch with

Senthil Babu,(
Department of Social Sciences,
French Institute of Pondicherry