Sunday, November 28, 2010

call me rich

At the introductory session of the WTMC workshop on research for development, Wiebe Bijker and Rob Hagendijk, senior STS scholars were standing with a few of the students. Sabarmatee from the wageningen university, myself and two other dutch Phd students. In a typically indian way, sabarmatee commented on my saree, a tie and die from Orissa; I responded by appreciating the khadi kurta that she wore, which was also woven in Orissa. Wiebe responded to this exchange saying 'this is richness, to be able to place a saree or fabric by looking at it, and to know exactly where it came from; and how it was made, i would have to turn my coat upside down, even to look at the label, and even then it would not tell me much'. I was stunned by what he said, because he was absolutely right, but i had not seen it as a value; rather i had more seen it as a daily attribute of handloom that i lived with.

I commented then, that he was wearing a beautiful shawl that his weaver wife tonny had made for him; and we all agreed that that was then the highest point in the scale of richness. For me this adds another dimension to the way in which i explicate value for the market for handloom.

The aesthetic, or the utility; the design or the technology; the science or the art? What is the value of using any of these categories to explicate the reality that is the richness of the handloom saree?