1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Craft and Sustainability in India

Edited By Rebecca Reubens, Tanishka Kachru Copyright 2025
    356 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    Traditional crafts have been an essential part of Indian history, culture and life. This handbook looks at craft as both a cultural artefact that reflects people’s worldviews, indigenous practices and traditions, as well as a source of income generation and development that is inclusive.

    India’s rapid development has meant a break-down of traditional economies, and including craft production-to-consumption systems. Meanwhile, there is a call to action from different factions to protect, revive and reinvent craft, because the inherent sustainability of the systems that underpin it are essential for the sustainability of India and her people. Against this backdrop, this book examines the current landscape of craft in India—its production and marketing in different parts of India, the incorporation of innovation and technology, the push for sustainability and equitability in the handicraft ecosystem and promising government policies that have proved beneficial for craftspeople. It also discusses various challenges that artisans, micro-entrepreneurs, and marketers face working in the space. With contributions from leading experts in the field of design, activism, policy, education, cultural heritage and entrepreneurship, this volume provides a comprehensive and in-depth picture of the history, economics and future of craft and its relationship with sustainability.

    An authoritative resource on Indian craft, this handbook will be useful for scholars and researchers of sustainable development, development studies, architecture, design, heritage studies, cultural studies, political economy and public policy.

    List of Figures. List of Tables. List of Contributors. Acknowledgements. 1. Introduction Part I: Policy Discourses 2. Sustaining Indian Craft as Culture, History, Livelihood and Service   3. A Brief History of Craft Policy (1947- 2020) With A Prescription for The Future 4. Dilli Haat: India’s First Organised Handicraft Market Part II: Craft Histories 5. Rewriting The History of Indian Crafts and Why That Matters 6. Representing Craft: The Possibilities of Pre-Colonial Histories 7. Chronicling Craftspeople in India: The Journals, Archives, Records and Documents That Construct a History Part III: Craft and Education 8. Toward A Sustainable Future of Craft Traditions: Education for Artisans of Kutch 9. Lessons Of Design Empowerment 10. 14 Years of Design and Business Education: Artisan Graduate Reflections Part IV: Craft and Technologies 11. Super-Sustainability: An Ecology of Cotton Cloth for A Future World 12. Encounters Of Craft and Digital: Recent Directions in India 13. Reviving Vernacular Crafts in India Through Additive Manufacturing Part V: Craft and Marketing 14. Unpacking The Sales Logic of Handloom Saris 15. Craft Retail: Omni Channel 16. The Landscape of Indian Craft Marketing Part VI: Craft and Certification 17. Indian Handicrafts and Geographical Indications (Gi) Act: The Case of Kashmir Pashmina 18. Holistic Sustainability Assessment for The Handicraft Sector 19. Sustainability Certification: Aica’s Craftmark Green Part VII: Craft and The Development Sector 20. Creative Manufacturing Can Contribute to A Kinder Economy 21. Successful Sustainable Craft Business Practices 22.  Kala Cotton: An Inside View Part VIII: Documentation and Representation 23. Documentation Of Craft in India: A Historical Overview from Early 20th Century to Present Day 24. Crafts In India: Representation And Reflexivity Through the Lens of Applied Research 25. Crafts: Evolution Of Narratives and Perceptions in India Part IX: Futures 26. Fibres In Peril: Revival Of Indigenous Cotton and Wool Traditions in Kutch 27. Toolkits as an Emerging Framework for Engaging with Crafts 28. Design By Proxy. Index



    Rebecca Reubens is a sustainability designer and independent academic who spent the first decade of her career working with development-sector institutions centred on sustainable livelihoods for bamboo-working communities in Asia and Africa. Following this, she completed her PhD at Delft University of Technology on the links between craft, sustainability, and design. She currently practices in the same space, through her sustainability design studio Rhizome in Ahmedabad. She remains connected to academics through her teaching and writing. She is the author of several publications including, Bamboo: From Green Design to Sustainable Design and Holistic Sustainability through Craft-Design Collaboration. She is a world bamboo ambassador for the World Bamboo Organization.

    Tanishka Kachru is a design historian, designer and educator at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, India. Her practice includes curation and cultural communication produced from collections, archives and living heritage. Her research interests focus on the intersections of design histories from postcolonial perspectives, national identity, exhibition histories, and design for development. She is the co-editor of Nakashima at NID and curator of the accompanying exhibition in 2016. She was co-convener of the Design History Society 2013 Annual Conference, the first to take place in a non-Western geography.