Abstract: How are primordial acts of making conceptualized and appropriated in the work of subsequent human makers? This workshop focuses on diverse and changing representations of the deity Vishwakarma, “Universe Maker.” A divine craftsman in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, the deity has historically been associated with hereditary artisan castes in India and honored in the form of tools. With industrialization, the deity became linked to machines, with his worship extending beyond crafts workshops into workplaces associated with the country’s infrastructural systems and networks: factories, architecture studios, IT firms, engineering colleges, public works departments, and industrial parks. We explore the potential of a historically grounded ethnographic collaboration to establish the long term dynamics and impact of this religious shift, and to theorize the relations between religion, craft and infrastructure. Learning why, how, and by whom Vishwakarma’s acts of making are celebrated sheds light on the dynamics of building contemporary India and more broadly illumines the resurgence of religion in relation to political and economic transformations elsewhere in Asia.
Kirin Narayan, Anthropology, CAP and HRC, Australian National University
Ken George, Anthropology, CAP and HRC, Australian National University
Vijaya Ramaswamy, History, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Vijaya will also be presenting seminarm details here.
Mahesh Sharma, History, University of Panjab. Mahesh will also be presenting a seminar, details here.