I am a social anthropologist with a research background in material culture studies, visual anthropology, museums and design practice. I am currently Guest Professor of Design Research & Material Culture at weissensee kunsthochschule berlin (Germany), and have been awarded the Mercator Fellowship 2018 in the Research Group ‘Value & Equivalence’ at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany.
My current focus is on the social and political contexts of sustainable design concepts and new materials for emerging circular economies. I have worked in India, the UK and Germany researching (re-)manufacturing and secondary economies with a focus on textiles. My research focuses on cultural perceptions of materials, concepts of value, systems of exchange and recycling economies. I have carried out ethnographic fieldwork researching the life-cycle of clothing in Delhi, the textile recycling industry in Panipat (north India), the future of industrial handloom-weaving cooperatives in Kerala, and the structure of the used textile economy in the UK.
Creative collaborations with visual artists have resulted in an accompanying body of work including photography, film and writing, disseminated through exhibitions, screenings and public talks.
I have taught anthropology of art, material culture theory and the material culture of South Asia and Africa, and anthropological methods at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the UK. I have used a wide range of materials, products, visual media and architectural forms in their various cultural contexts as case studies in my teaching, helping to build capacity in comparative and critical thinking. I have worked with design students pursuing their Masters in Sustainable Fashion, Berlin by supporting their design research practice, critical thinking and research methodologies. During a previous career working in museums, I published research on early 20th C photographic archives of Balinese dance, and was Collections Manager for anthropological, natural history and ethno-musicological collections.
Understanding the perceptions of materiality and concepts of value that underpin people’s sense of self and relationships to others, and how these are implicated in wider exchange systems, is central to my work. This has led to new research questions concerning the design of products and systems as strategies for sustainability and social engagement with emerging models of the circular economy. These include the scales at which circularity of resources might be implemented, and their implications for how political and economic relations of power will be structured in the future.
Please contact me at email@example.com