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PhD Scholars

Amita Kini-Singh

Title of Thesis: Drawn to Each Other: Cultural Crossings Between India and Japan in 20th Century Art (registered with Manipal Academy of Higher Education)

My doctoral research focuses on cross-cultural influences between India and Japan in 20th century art, the seeds of which were planted in the early 1900s in the art of the Bengal School. In my dissertation, I will also analyse the impact of varied interactions between the two countries on the practices of eminent painters such as Nandalal Bose, Benodebehari Mukherjee, Hishida Shunsō, Yokoyama Taikan, Hiroshi Yoshida and Akino Fuku, as well as on the present generation of artists.


Apala Lahiri Chavan

Title of Thesis: Investigating the Need for an Alternate User Experience Design Practice: Enabling the Design of Experiences that Help Enhance Alternative Sustainable Ecosystems (registered with Manipal Academy of Higher Education)

My doctoral research focuses on the need to create a new ecosystem and framework that changes the very purpose of any design activity to reflect a larger scale of possible transformation that design can create. Inspired by Amartya Sen’s Capability approach, Max Neef’s Human Scale Development Model and the Design Ethics movement, the Design 3.0 ecosystem and framework aims to achieve that.


Asmita Sarkar

Title of Thesis: Exploring the Metaphoric and Embodied Nature of Traces and Marks on Contemporary Painting: A Phenomenological Investigation (registered with Manipal Academy of Higher Education)

Asmita investigates the metaphoric and generative potential of contemporary painting by looking closely at both, their surface and their embodied meaning beyond image, icon and representation. She creates paintings as a part of her research within the context of new-materialism. Merleau-Ponty’s theory of embodiment and perception along with recent theories of non-verbal, sensory metaphor provide the theoretical framework of her research.


Deepta Sateesh

Title of Thesis: Reimaging the Western Ghats (registered with Manipal Academy of Higher Education)

My research investigates local practices that are rooted in a particular understanding of dynamic ecological processes and the continual making of place in the Western Ghats. In this monsoon terrain, the local has a different ontology based on everyday practices that intercept wetness. The exploration is of the local engaging with temporality, materiality and complexity rather than the dominant rationality of the discourse of ‘environmentalism’ that has designed nature for production and protection.


Geetanjali Sachdev

Title of Thesis: Botanical Motifs in Art and Design in Public Spaces: Towards a Pedagogical Framework (registered with Manipal Academy of Higher Education)

My doctoral research explores botanical motifs in art and design in public spaces in order to build a pedagogical framework for studying plants. Focussing on the representational use of plants in street art and design artefacts in the public environment, the research draws implications for pedagogical approaches for the study of plants in the context of higher education in art and design.


Nisha Subramaniam

Title of Thesis: The Influences of Modernity and Globalisation on Traditional Artisanal Practices in India (registered with Manipal Academy of Higher Education)

My PhD dissertation is in the domain of traditional craft communities in India. The research explores how artisans perceive modernity and how they engage with it in a way that evolves contemporary artisanal practice. My particular focus is the transmission of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the safeguarding of practices by the community that have evolved in response to the environment.


Niyati Jigyasu

Title of Thesis: Examining the Role of ‘Traditional Craft-based Economy’ in the Conservation of Historic Urban Areas (registered with Manipal Academy of Higher Education)

The research has been undertaken with a development objective that aims to understand the role of traditional economies in sustaining communities located in historic urban areas in India. It will also advocate for the need to reinforce the contribution of such traditional economies towards the protection and management of urban heritage. Thus, the thesis aims to identify enabling systems that will contribute towards the economic development of local communities in historic urban areas, a crucial step towards a sustainable development paradigm.


Patcharaporn Lueraj

Title of Thesis: Exploring Materiality in Craft: Translating Techniques of Make-Up, Mask-Making, and Costume Design of Kathakali and Khon in Jewellery Making (registered with Manipal Academy of Higher Education)

My doctoral research explores, through practice-based research, the designing and making of contemporary jewellery artefacts that synthesize the arts of make-up, mask-making, and costume design in the Kathakali and Khon performing traditions. In essence, the PhD proposes to develop a new paradigm of practice based research in jewellery design, which is invested in traditional knowledge and crafts and creates a cross-cultural crafts and practice-based narrative.


Priya Joseph

Title of Thesis: The Intersection of Vernacular and Colonial Processes of Building: Interpreting Architecture Through Material and Technique (registered with Manipal Academy of Higher Education)

My doctoral research focuses on the intersection of techniques and tectonics in the architecture of South India during the 19th century. Tracing the history of technology, the study examines native practices, colonial influences and their manifestation as built structures, especially with earth-based material. The thesis argues the consequences of these intersections on architecture. Standardisation as normalisation in architecture and cognition are two major arguments addressed through this work.


Srisrividhiya Kalyanasundaram (Srivi Kalyan)

Title of Thesis: The Porous Self: Crafting an Intrinsic Ecological Consciousness through Text, Image and Movement

My doctoral research locates ecological problems within the frame of the individual human self by asking a pertinent question: How do we turn our gaze inward to fix our perceptions of nature and our own consciousness rather than externalize the problems? Through artistic inquiry, the proposal zones into the idea of porosity as a principle of consciousness to rediscover our relationship with the natural world and our own selves within it.


Vishvesh Kandolkar

Title of Thesis: Architecture and the Structuring of Identity in ‘Postcolonial’ Goa (registered with Manipal Academy of Higher Education)

My doctoral research examines different modes in which the state employs architectural images to construct as well as project the identity of Goa from colonial times to the present. While my research chronicles the genealogy of sixteenth-century monuments, such as the Basilica of Bom Jesus, it also attempts to apprehend the historical trace of architectural images in the making of regionality. Thus, even as a monument such as the Basilica served as evidence of Goa Dourada or Golden Goa, in the early modern period and after, I argue that its contemporary iconicity is employed in marking Goa's difference from the rest of India.


Anuradha Nambiar

My doctoral research focusses on maker-communities’ conceptualization and articulation of their traditional knowledge systems as counterpoints to discourses of intangible cultural heritage. Critically engaging with how craft practices are framed and interpreted within conservation frameworks, the thesis explores alternative perceptions of the nature and value of heritage.


Divya N

My doctoral research analyses the context-sensitive nature of the narratives concerning jewellery, jewellery-making and wear, particularly in the case of artisanal jewellery in India. Focussing on the symbiotic relationship between the maker, wearer and viewer, the study explores the manner in which these relationships affect the message conveyed by the piece of jewellery.


Elza D’ Cruz

My research focuses on the genealogy of landscape architecture in India, especially human engagements with built floral spaces and gardens. I am currently engaged in studying the interface between nature, culture and built landscapes through the oral history and materiality of the Tigala community of Bengaluru as well as texts on medieval Indian landscapes.


Mallikarjun Naralasetty

My doctoral research focuses on understanding the influence of cinema on the built environment in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in India. The study would compare representations of architecture in cinema with the prevailing architectural practices and look into the involvement of film makers in the development of both, Amaravathi, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh and the Yadadri temple complex in Telangana.


Maria Akhtar

My doctoral research attempts to understand the definition of space and its articulation as a bearer of meaning in the design of the built environment through a study of the architect B.V. Doshi's works. The research shall also attempt to situate B.V. Doshi in the context of International Modernism and Indian building traditions.


Mikita Gupta

My doctoral research intends to study pedagogic models of interior design in the country and their relevance to the practices of contemporary interior designers in India. My main focus is to conduct a multi-layered study of the traditional approach to Indian design education (as suggested by Charles and Ray Eames in The India Report) and the current curricula at different design institutes where interior design is offered as a discipline, and evaluate the relevance of these frameworks and processes to professional practice.


Paul Anthony George

My research focuses on the relationships between made objects, the maker and the behaviour of making, in the context of spreadable digital media (and behaviours stemming from it). A study of internet memes in India and phenomenon such as dissent, satire, free expression and ambivalent behaviour fostered by them, the research is at the intersection of digital ethnography, culture studies, human computer interaction, humour studies and critical theory.


Pooja Sagar

My project examines the history of professional medicine in Kerala through the lives of women doctors and surgeons from 1900-1951. Through analysing the constellation of ideas, practices and circumstances that resulted in the spread of modern medicine in Kerala and the rise of women in the field, the stories of the people and the institutions involved, the project aims to look at the micro-histories of individuals in the field as well as the macro-history of the history of medicine and its transnational connections in order to uncover some notions of ‘modernity’ in Kerala.


Prachi Mehrotra

My research focuses on the interpretation of textiles as a living culture with longstanding histories and links to communities of makers and users. Potent markers of identity, textiles help us maintain our connections between the past and present as well as our ties to each other. While the methods used in their making may have been employed for generation, they are nevertheless the products of individual acts of creation. Exploring textiles as physical manifestations of the history of mankind as well as of history in the making, the project examines how altering the manner in which textiles crafts are framed may shape new discourses for future textile practice.


Priyanka Manusanipalli

My research focuses on investigating the influence of urbanisation on public open spaces and water bodies in the context of Indian cities. Through a critical assessment of the issues related to cultural and historic landscapes, changes in morphology of spaces with respect to human habitation, the study proposes to lead to a theorisation of the impacts of functional change on land use.


Rhythema Rawat

My research is an exploration of direct and indirect impacts of economic prosperity on systems of urban living and development. The research majorly focuses on the impact of economy on open and closed systems of the city, urban feedback loops, socio-ecological diversity and urban form. The prime research area is the case of Bangalore City and the effects of economic prosperity experienced after 1990s as part of the larger Indian context. In the process the thesis aims to understand the evolution of the relationship between the authority, urban designer and end user due to above mentioned factors.


Siddhesh Sushil Shirsekar

My doctoral research proposes to study cognitive patterns of sightless children within current educational systems and the educational technologies being used in classrooms. Focusing on phonological study and acquisitions of sounds as preliminary source of knowledge in particular, the research investigates the interrelationship between prevalent traditional knowledge systems and the possibilities offered by contemporary education technologies.


Srishti Singhal

The growing concerns around climate change and resource scarcity demand sustainable product design. However, sustainability is not only about production but consumption as well – the "use phase" of the product lifecycle, especially in clothing. Its impact also varies across different sociological, economical, and cultural contexts in which clothes are used. My doctoral research focuses on understanding Indian consumer behaviour in the 'use phase' of clothing and transforming this understanding into potential design solutions that can be integrated into service design so as to prolong clothing lifecycles and reduce their environmental impact.


Sudha H

My doctoral research explores built sacred environments in terms of their temporality, materiality and phenomenology and cultural contexts as a means of understanding how spirituality is experientially translated in and via these spaces. Focussing on case studies of the architecture of Kerala temples, the proposed study will examine both historical living temples and modern edifices and chart if and how changes in form, material and context have altered the character and experience of the sacred as built form.


Sunita Dalvi

My research focuses on the commonalities of the architectural spaces which the families of Textile Mill workers came to occupy when they migrated from the Konkan region to Mumbai. Although the objects which they carried with them from their homelands conveyed a specific sense of homeliness into the alien context of the metropolis, the aspiration of urbanization in itself reveals an alienation from the homeland. Focussing on how these contesting desires for the sense of home and urbanisation manifest in architectural form, the study examines the residential units in the new redeveloped property from the chawls as an act of reclamation of the city through a renewal of their modernity.