Exploring Silk Weaving in India: A Journey of Discovery
The multi-disciplinary teams from IDBM and IIT Guwahati explored the challenges and complexities of the Sualkuchi Silk Industry in February 2023. The Aalto students alongside the local students attended lectures, and workshops at the local college and IIT Guwahati. The students were introduced to different methodologies such as Problem Based Learning (PBL) and participated in informative lectures about the Sualkuchi silk industry.
The Sualkuchi silk industry's intricacies are not readily accessible through conventional research channels. Much of this knowledge has been passed down through generations, making it challenging to comprehensively conduct research before local engagement and field research. The field research was conducted in the local silk village of Sualkuchi, close to the Brahmaputra River. The village is heavily invested in the process of silk manufacturing which provided the students with a holistic view of the silk-making process, from silkworm harvesting to the final product. The complexity of the issues faced by stakeholders became evident through the interviews, aided by translation assistance from the IIT students, and revealed the difficulties faced by weavers. Witnessing the meticulous, labor-intensive, and manual weaving process uncovered a multitude of insights and shed light on the challenges faced by these artisans working in cramped and poorly ventilated spaces. It challenged their preconceived notions and highlighted the intricate nature of the problems at hand.
According to the students the filed visit was an eye-opening experience one that underscored the importance of immersing in the local context and connecting with the local stakeholders of Northeastern India to gain profound insights. It reinforced the notion that assumptions based solely on online research may fall short, and it is safe to assume that “one knows nothing until proven otherwise”.
The IDBM Industry Project student team's journey to explore the Sualkuchi Silk Industry in India was a transformative experience that uncovered not only the intricacies of the silk weaving process but also the richness of Indian culture and the importance of approaching research with an open mind. The team returned to Aalto University with newfound knowledge and a broader perspective on the challenges faced by the Sualkuchi silk industry.
More information is available here.