Sandria B Freitag
North Carolina State University, United States
Civil-society and State collaborations, focused on a substantive reworking of the role of crafts, joined with Market contributions (especially after Economic Liberalization in the 1990s), to shape India’s unique global position in the Global South. NGOs have played a crucial change-agent role since Independence in these partnerships, enabling the handicraft sector to not only survive but become a central signifier of India internationally. Changes over the last several years, however, suggest a much tenser relationship between state and NGOs, while a much broader taxonomy is needed to locate change-agents operating within civil-society. These developments require us to reconceptualize the dynamic animating efforts to preserve crafts and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Current interactions of the diverse actors at the centre, in the constituent states, in civil society – NGOs as well as social movements – may make India unique among Asian countries, or mark a larger pattern for the future. Focusing on craft to understand change over time thus suggests that the increasingly complex elaboration of civil society may well provide pointers to a future differing from the shift that marked the socio-economic changes from a colonial to independent India.
SANDRIA B. FREITAG has long explored a range of source materials answering new questions about ordinary people (from criminality to public-space activities). Publications include two monographs (one now in press) and three collections of essays. She has a PhD from UC -Berkeley and a BA from Mills College.