Project Year



South Asia



Project Description

This study regards the gathering of oral histories of silk industry stakeholders in the south-Indian state of Karnataka - in terms of the acquisition, ownership, and divestment of gold jewelry - as a way of tracking assets and debts and attaining an understanding of intersections between debt-based labor arrangements and the impact of financial inclusion policies in the sector. In addition to being fundamentally linked to debt and stocks of wealth, gold also serves as a monetary marker that will be used to locate and track memories of financial situations and financial behavior over time. We seek to acquire knowledge pertaining to modulating debt-based labor arrangements in the sector. In particular this study seeks to locate the ways in which such labor arrangements have been reinforced or reconfigured following the implementation of economic liberalization policies. The intention is to understand how larger trends of genderization, and gendered financial inclusion policies, pursued through self-help groups (SHGs) and commercial microfinance, have impacted links between social hierarchies and workforce vulnerabilities.


Nithya Joseph

About the Researcher(s)

JosephNithya Joseph is studying the politics of production and reproduction across the silk industry in Karnataka, India. This work is guided by research on debt-based labor and microfinance. Nithya has read for the M.Sc. in Contemporary India (2010) at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford, and facilitated research methods learning labs and writing workshops at the Srishti College of Art, Design, and Technology in Bangalore.


Link to Nithya Joseph's Final Report Gold-based Spectrums in a South Indian Silk Producing Hub: Relating continuums of accumulation, vulnerability, and wellbeing

Link to blogpost, "“And our ears have been empty since then” – Gold Ownership and Changing Work Vulnerability in the Informal Silk Reeling Economy of Post-Liberalisation South India"

Link to blogpost, "Silk Workers and Gold in Karnataka with Nithya Joseph"


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