SSAF–AAA Research Grant for Histories of Ideas, Art Writing and Visual Culture 2018

SSAF–AAA Research Grant for Histories of Ideas, Art Writing and Visual Culture

Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation (SSAF) and Asia Art Archive (AAA) in India are pleased to announce the SSAF–AAA Research Grant for Histories of Ideas, Art Writing and Visual Culture. The institution of this Grant, which is the first collaboration between SSAF and AAA in India, emerges from AAA’s ongoing engagement with histories of art writing, and its initiatives to map, compile, translate and republish texts from various contexts. The Grant is in line with SSAF’s commitment to work with cross-disciplinary initiatives addressing the oppressed and the marginalized, alternative and heterodox practices in the arts and in intellectual work.


The SSAF–AAA Research Grant for Histories of Ideas, Art Writing and Visual Culture aims to:

  • support research on critical histories of art writing, art-making and visual culture in the twentieth/twenty-first century in India and in other countries of South Asia, with a focus on their manifestations in print form such as books, journals, magazines and newspapers;
  • open research avenues into dalit, feminist, peasant, working-class and other political histories, viewed as a constituent part of wider discursive fields, specific regional milieus, and the politics of image-making and circulation;
  • help develop tools and methods for critical art-historical analysis of regional discourses and debates in politics and culture, preferably in (though not limited to) the regional languages.


Applicants are encouraged to propose projects that open new areas of study and frame rigorous questions of them; offer close readings of image and text; map circuits of dissemination; and suggest new connections between existing intellectual histories, social, political and cultural movements and the visual arts.


Grant Focus for 2018


For 2018, the focus of the SSAF–AAA Research Grant is Periodicals, as a site that is decisive in shaping perceptions, imaginations and notions of what constitutes culture and the public sphere. We invite proposals that interrogate how periodicals of different kinds – journals/magazines/little magazines – contributed to, constituted and were embedded in the cultural politics of a historical moment, and the role of visuals therein. Proposals that focus on how the visual arts – including cover art, illustrations, cartoons, centrespreads, photographs, portfolios and reproductions of artworks – were positioned in periodicals in different languages and/or from different regions will be given preference. Areas of research could include:

  1. one or more social movements that extended to periodicals and mapping the place of visuals therein;
  2. an interesting moment in the life of one or more periodicals, and the role of visuals therein;
  3. the travel of ideas on arts, aesthetics and cultural practices within periodicals, and via translation between languages;
  4. the intellectual contribution of one or more writers/editors/publishers who played an important role in the evolution of a periodical, and in the positioning of visual arts within it;
  5. debates on concepts and categories stemming from regional languages as reflected/published in periodicals.




Eligibility Criteria

  • Individuals who are Indian nationals residing in India, or collectives whose members are Indian nationals residing in India
  • Individuals with relevant academic qualifications; or already engaged in research, or with access to private or public collections; or with professional experience in writing/publishing; or activists with years of engagement/experience in their chosen fields.


Deadline for Applications

1 January 2018


Duration of Grant

One year: 1 February 2018 – 1 February 2019


Grant Amount

Up to INR 3,00,000


Grant Deliverables
  • Report.A detailed report (of not less than 7,500 words) on the research undertaken to be submitted at the conclusion of the grant period.
    Suggested appendices, in addition to the report:
    • Interviews of persons relevant to the research (to be submitted in text form in English)
    • Translations into English of select texts used in the research
    • Bibliography of published and unpublished sources used for the research
    • Timeline of the periodical/writer/subject under study
    • Original, digitized or photocopied material (published and unpublished) collected during research.
  • Presentation/Workshop.A public presentation of the research, to be organized by AAA in collaboration with other institutions and organizations (venue and dates to be confirmed closer to date).





Guidelines for research proposals/topics

  • Proposals with clearly defined objectives and an outline of the significance of the proposed area/topic of research;
  • Topics that are interdisciplinary and attentive to social movements;
  • Topics that engage with regional cultures and languages;
  • Topics that focus on modern and contemporary art and visual cultures;
  • Proposals that sound feasible for completion within the duration of the grant;
  • Proposals can be connected to ongoing research, and this grant can be used for furtherance of work that is already under way.


Three candidates will be shortlisted on the basis of the applications received, and invited to Delhi for interviews. The interviews will be conducted at the office of the Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation, at 3/9 Shanti Niketan, First floor, New Delhi 110021, on 27 January 2018. The grantee will be selected from among those interviewed by a jury consisting of one external member, and one member each from SSAF and AAA in India. The selected candidate/grantee (only) will be notified not later than 29 January 2018.


Applications must include:

  1. A cover letter with your name, postal address, email address, telephone number (if available), along with the names and email addresses of 2 referees with experience in the area of your proposed research
  2. An updated CV: not more than 750 words in length
  3. Project Proposal
    An outline of your research project which should include:
    (i) a brief description in no more than 1,500 words of the intended research and its components
    (ii) names of sources, libraries/archives/collections and interlocutors your research will focus on
    (iii) a tentative timeline for the realization of the project

(iv) no more than five images of proposed research material in a single pdf file

  1. Budget
    A breakdown of estimated costs for your project based on your proposal and timeline.
    The proposed budget will not be considered final until vetted by AAA & SSAF in consultation with the selected grantee before the commencement of the grant.


All applications along with supporting documents listed above are to be submitted online only to both and, no later than1 January 2018 with the subject line ‘SSAF-AAA Research Grant 2018’. Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered.




About SSAF

The Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation (SSAF) was set up in the year 2016 with the mandate to carry forward the legacy of scholar and photographer, Umrao Singh Sher-Gil (1870–1954); his daughter and a pioneering figure of modern Indian art, Amrita Sher-Gil (1913–1941);  her nephew and niece, artist Vivan Sundaram and filmmaker and television journalist, Navina Sundaram.


SSAF seeks to enable conjunctions of artistic and cultural practice that deal with historical memory, and to build expectations for the future. It commits itself to advancing creative independence for art that is founded on freedom of expression, and which is secular. It will work in solidarity with initiatives addressing concerns of the marginalized; it will support alternative and heterodox practices.

About AAA in India

Asia Art Archive in India (AAA in India) was established in 2013 in New Delhi, with an on-site digital collection open to visitors. AAA in India organizes projects, workshops and programmes to build archival collections and educational resources, and to facilitate dialogue and critical thinking around modern and contemporary art from India. AAA in India works in partnership with multiple individuals, organizations and institutions in fields that share AAA’s values.