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Adhitya Dhanapal

Prof Library Staff
Duke University Libraries


Adhitya is a historian of craft, technology, and the political economy of development in colonial and postcolonial South Asia. His current book project explores how handloom weavers sought to shape a world after Empire where increased mechanization and automation would not render their skills and livelihoods obsolete. Situating handloom weavers within a global network of craft activists, (anti-)caste mobilizations in South India, and Japanese technocrats and merchants in South and Southeast Asia, the book examines how decentralized and small-scale producers established weaving cooperatives, adapted new practices of labor-intensive industrialization and collectively bargained with the emerging bureaucracy of the postcolonial nation-state.

Adhitya completed his Ph.D. in History from Princeton University in 2024. He holds a master's degree in Arts and Aesthetics and an M.Phil. in History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

At Duke University, he serves as the Resident Librarian for South and Southeast Asian Studies. Adhitya supports faculty, researchers, and students through reference support and library instruction sessions. He looks forward to activating the library's extensive collection of rare books and ephemera on Decolonization. Moreover, he conducts information literacy sessions that help users access digital resources and materials in non-Roman script languages from the Global South.

Outside his academic pursuits, Adhitya has a deep passion for architecture, art, and craft. Since relocating to Durham, NC, he has dedicated his free time to researching and collecting handmade textiles from Southern Appalachia.

Current Appointments & Affiliations