> > Dr Neelam Raina - Senior Lecturer Fashion and Interiors
Dr Neelam Raina - Senior Lecturer Fashion and Interiors

Craft making for a Global Market: Karigari aur Rozgaar 25 July - 05 August, Neelum Valley Pakistan

"LAAJVERD VISITING SCHOOL - Conceptual note - There is a rising need to revisit our approach to academia that contributes to criti- cal awareness and sound co-shaping of our shared environment. Encouraging inter- disciplinary academic discourse, Laajverd initiates its visiting school that responds to conditions of ‘crises’. Crises are instants of shifting modalities – they mark points of change in a multilayered program. It is a specific period of time that is crucial in several ways of identification and determination of a system that is being regulated in an escalated force field. Combined systems of humans and nature are convoluted in terms of how they anticipate and respond to disturbed environments: disasters and conflict zones. The capacity to deal with the types of uncertainties and surprises requires innovative approaches, creative combinations of strategies, and the ability to adapt to the changing environment. The governance of such areas is exercised by the state and the development sector that deals with the conflict that arises due to the crises. Often, disaster zones prove as a fertile ground for the conflict to foster. How does the creative faculty and developmental faculty respond actively to shifting environments? This intensive invites the creative and developmental faculty, students and field experts to join this visiting school in chalking out a more effective academic methodology.

Based on the project Academy for Democracy (AFD), Laajverd’s visiting school encourages interdisciplinary academic discourse that employs creative negotiation as a method to address the communities undergoing conflict. AFD is a practice led research project that aims to analyze, understand and refine the role of the creative faculty in order to equip them with the precise body of knowledge that will aid them during humanitarian activities. It provides artists with an opportunity to see how field practice might best interact within the visual arts, and how scholarship aligns with professional reflective analysis and creative impulse. It involves performance, sound and visual arts. By extensive research into the academic structures and the professional practice that follows, this project investigates new and creative method- ologies that re-structure the current academic process. By observing the fast paced transformation in the recent past that has re-organized our cities, this initiative is inspired by the new socio-spatial configurations that await the caretaker in order to democratically reclaim the space. Experimental cooperation across disciplinary boundaries exemplified in this project seeks to address the educational skills needed to tackle the critical environmental and humanitarian challenges. The immediate goal of the AFD 2014 is to collabora- tively engage with the community under study in order to analyse the context and experiment multiple ways of reconciliation. The visiting school further composes a trans- disciplinary curriculum for higher education, presenting a workable and academically feasible design for shared knowledge building under the AFD visiting school auspices. The research and seminar topics are designed by instructors from different fields that not only present a broader understanding of the subject under study but aims to experiment with the various ways in which we perceive the human condition within the geo-fabric.

The ten-day intensive includes workshops, think tank, field exercises and seminars that will eventually produce a publication and an exhibition. In 2014, the school was based on the Attabad Lake disaster in Northern Pakistan. In 2015, the area being visited is Neelum Valley that lies on the Line of Control" - Zahra Hussain http://lvs.laajverd.org 

The workshop I am running allows participants to understand basic concepts of design and apply skills in developing a design range that is relevant to a globalized craft market. The workshop will provide skills and knowledge about design through conversations and visual commu- nication, allowing participants to engage with the creative process and understand what it means to make things. Here designing with the craftsperson is key to understanding action research as opposed to designing for the craftsperson.

The workshop is being run virtually - a short film introducing the work, the workshop and previous research that focussed on the value of design as a tool for development in post conflict areas. This is followed by three workshops which will run through the duration of the visiting school.

Dr Neelam Raina

Senior Lecturer Fashion and Interiors


Neelam Raina’s research explores the links between culture, conflict, poverty and development. Her doctoral research analyzed this from the perspective of Muslim women in post-conflict Kashmir and the role crafts plays in generating income for them. Crafts and working within them have changed the lives of women who have borne the impact of the conflict in Kashmir: their new and changed roles as head of their families and income earners has had deep repercussions for them and their families.

Neelam’s current research focuses on how Muslim women in other conflict zones cope and their needs of income generation in unstable environments, with limited skills and resources, and the question of whether vocational training could impact their ability to generate income through culturally relevant activities. She is interested in exploring women in Afghanistan and their survival strategies; and, in reverse, the impact on income generation on their socio-cultural identity.

Neelam simultaneously continues to work in Kashmir with women’s crafts groups, exploring the impact of skill based training on their income and in the long run on the quality of their lives. This work also feeds into development thinking with regards to post-disaster construction as well as the role that design plays in development.

Her research interest lies within the understanding of the potential role of design in economic development of conflict areas, with a special focus on women. Conflict areas and their presence within the broader zone of disaster recovery and reconstruction have been an area of interest and debate that emerged from her doctoral research. She is keen to explore the mechanisms that govern donor priorities while approaching reconstruction, and is also keen to explore the links between ethno-cultural identity, its economics and its importance to reconstruction.

PhD supervisions:

Sondos Baslouh: Islamic Art Elements in Contemporary Art

Noura Bakhet F Alotaibu: The Role of Handicraft within Design: A comparison between Art and Design communities in Saudi Arabia and Europe


‘Design for Developing Contexts’ (Forthcoming)
Chapter Title: The Role of Design in Reconstruction of a post conflict area : Kashmiri Crafts
Editor : Dr James Fathers
Publisher: Ashgate Gower Publishing
‘Post Disaster Reconstruction – Meeting Stakeholder Interests’.
Chapter Title: Economic Regeneration in Areas of Long Term Conflict: The Case of Kashmir
Editors: David Alexander, University of Florence, Italy, Colin Henry Davidson, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Andrew Fox, Coventry University, Coventry, UK, Cassidy Johnson, University of
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Gonzalo Loizzarde, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Publisher: Firenze University Press.
‘Gender and Islam – Perspectives from South Asia’  (Forthcoming)
Chapter Title: ‘Reconstruction of Kashmir and the role of Islam’
Editors: Anna Lindberg, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of History and
Women’s Studies, Pennsylvania State University, USA, Shailaja
Fennell, Ph.D, Faculty at the School of Development Studies, University of Cambridge, UK
Publisher: Routledge Press, London.

Conference Papers

Paper Title: Post Conflict Crafts (Panel Organised and presenter)
London, 12th-14th April 2012
Conference Title: British Association of South Asian Studies Annual Conference
Organised by: School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
Paper Title: Power Matters – State Society Interactions in South Asia
Paper Title: Lived Realities of Islam
Edinburgh, 25th – 29th March 2009
Conference Title: British Association of South Asian Studies Annual Conference
Organised by: Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh
Paper Title: Kashmir, Crafts and The Path To Reconstruction
Otago, 22 – 25th November 2007
Conference Title: 17th New Zealand Asian Studies Society International Conference, 2007
Organised  by:  The  New  Zealand  Asian  Studies  Society  and  The
University of Otago.
Paper Title: Reconstruction of Kashmir and the role of Islam
Leiden, 27- 30th June 2006
Conference Title: The 19th  European  Conference  on  Modern  South Asian Studies
Organised by: European Association of South Asian Studies, International Institute of South Asian Studies and Leiden University.
Paper Title: Economic Regeneration in Areas of Violent Long Term Conflict– The Case of Kashmir
Florence, 17-19 May 2006
Conference Title: Third International I-Rec Conference. Post Disaster reconstruction: Meeting Stakeholder Interests.
Organised  by:  The  I-Rec  Group  at  the  University  of  Montreal  and CESPRO at the University of Florence.
Lecture: Crafts after Conflict - Economic and Social Reconstruction of Kashmir
Oslo, 16th March 2006
Conference Title: My World - Interaction between Crafts and Design,
Organised  by:  Norsk  Form  (Norwegian  Architecture  and  Design Centre), Oslo.
Funding: Sponsored and Invited by Norsk Form, Oslo.

Neelam Raina’s research in the University Repository

Reconstruction of Kashmir and the role of Islam

Raina, Neelam (2014) Reconstruction of Kashmir and the role of Islam. In: Gender and Islam: perspectives from South Asia. Lindberg, Anna and Fennell, Shailaja , eds. Routledge. (Accepted...