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Adhitya Dhanapal

Prof Library Staff
Duke University Libraries


Before joining Duke University Libraries as the Resident Librarian for South and Southeast Asia, Adhitya was a PhD candidate at Princeton University. Adhitya is on the verge of completing his Ph.D. and his dissertation, titled "Towards an Artisanal Future: Development, Decolonization, and the Handloom Weaving Industry in Madras, 1904 - 64," delves into the experiences of small-scale weavers in Madras amidst the influences of the British and Japanese empires. Overcoming the challenges of colonialism and large-scale industrial capitalism, these weavers strategically organized themselves into co-operatives or caste associations, enabling them to access both domestic and international markets. This research underscores the pivotal role of small businesses in the evolution of capitalism and the intricate dynamics of (de)colonization.

During his time at Princeton, Adhitya further pursued his interests by initially serving as an assistant for the South Asian Ephemera Collection. In 2023, he also secured the University Administrative Fellowship grant to conduct a systematic survey of ephemeral items from and about South Asia that are scattered across repositories in the United States, with special reference to making unprocessed and under processed materials more accessible to the wider research community.

Before coming to Princeton, Adhitya earned degrees in History and Art History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He was a part of the Multi-Volume Documentation Project of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly, the Viceroy's House), where he extensively documented, cataloged, and researched various art/craft objects and architectural features belonging to the estate of the President of India.

Outside of his academic pursuits, Adhitya is deeply passionate about architecture, art, and craft. Since relocating to Durham, NC, he has dedicated his free time to researching and collecting handmade textiles from southern Appalachia.

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