Oct. 6 Faculty Convivium to feature presentation by Bharath Ramkumar

You are cordially invited to a luncheon with the Oneonta Faculty Convivium on Wednesday, Oct. 6, from noon to 1:00 p.m., in Otsego Grille, Morris Conference Center. Dr. Bharath Ramkumar, assistant professor in Human Ecology, will present a talk titled, “Peering Through the Lens of Indigenous Women Textile Artisans: An Ethnographic Journey into Northeastern India.”    

Seating is limited. To reserve a seat please call X2517 prior to 10/1. Vegetarian meals are available.

Abstract:   In his theory of alienation, the 19th century philosopher Karl Marx asserted that in a capitalistic mode of production, “man is alienated from his product because the activity which produced it was alienated.” Fast forward to the 21st century, Marx’s prediction couldn’t have been better exemplified than by our relationship to our so-called “second skin” i.e., the clothes we wear. Rapid mass production methods that dominate the modern clothing industry provide minimal room for garment workers to form any real connection with the products they help produce. Moreover, with less than 3 percent of clothes sold in the U.S. being made in the U.S., today’s American consumers are detached from the people and processes that produce their clothes. 

Upon learning these truths, I asked myself, has industrialization and commodification devoured every inch of this planet? Or are there any hidden remnants of traditionally sustainable apparel production practices existing in our modern world that we can learn from? These very questions drove my research agenda a few years ago, guiding me to the world of indigenous women textile artisans in rural north-eastern India who have preserved and sustained their traditional textile practices in its authentic, eco-friendly form. In this presentation, I revisit my ethnographic journey of uncovering a deep connection between these textile artisans and their art, to answer my research questions.