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4–7 September, 2019

Thursday, 5 September | | Miraikan Hall

Talk | Presented in English

Building a New Typography: Tangible and Intangible Heritages of Typographic Practice in India

India’s textual and typographic heritage can be considered to have four stages influenced by economic and political development: precolonial, colonial, postcolonial, and liberal. Because India is essentially an oral and manuscript culture, an argument can be made that Indian typographic and publishing practice has absorbed Western typographic norms to such an extent that vernacular ways of designing, publishing, distributing, and receiving texts are often usurped by so-called “global practices.” However, as design theorist Tony Fry noted in 2017, much work remains to be done on “how design is understood, transformed, and practiced in the Global South.” This work requires a conscious and critical reflection on heritage. Using India as a case study and typography as a lens, this talk asks what a true typographic heritage is in a postcolonial, liberal context. Using examples of historical approaches and practice in the design, production, and distribution of texts in India, Ramanathan evaluates particular intangible and tangible heritages, and sifts through inherited and local practices with the aim of drawing together a “new typography” for India. Overall, she seeks to engage, explore, debate, elaborate, refine, and extend a sense of typography and typographic practices by and for a “Modern India.”