Adhitya Dhanapal, GS, HIS


My research looks into the handloom textile economy in Southern India between 1900-1965. My dissertation seeks to emphasize the centrality of small businesses in the development of capitalism and the dynamics of (de)colonization in 20th-century India. I investigate 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.

I had a great time working on South Asian Ephemera: posters, pamphlets, banners, postcards, and other items that were mass-produced and widely disseminated. Working on resource descriptions for these materials helped me with my PhD research, helping me access and discover archival material within Princeton University but also helped navigate libraries and archival repositories across North America. Besides the direct connection between academic research and librarianship, I benefited from working collaboratively. 

GradFUTURES offered me a unique opportunity to deepen my engagement with the world of academic libraries. In collaboration with Dr. Ellen Ambrosone, the South Asia Studies librarian, I was able to design a bespoke UAF that catered to my own interests. I used the opportunity to reach out to important leaders in the field of South Asian librarianship and get a better sense of the challenges and opportunities of collection development for the history, culture and political economy of South Asia.