Interdisciplinary research in Rajasthan, India: Exploring the role of culture and art to support rural development and water management

Michael Buser
University of the West of England, Centre for Sustainable Environments and Planning, Bristol, UK; michael.buser@uwe.ac.uk

Loraine Leeson
University of Middlesex, Department of Fine Arts, UK; l.leeson@mdx.ac.uk

M.S. Rathore
Centre for Environment and Development Studies (CEDSJ), Jaipur, India; msrorama@gmail.com

Anurupa Roy
The Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust, New Delhi, India; royanurupa@gmail.com

Nina Sabnani
Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay, Mumbai, India; nina.sabnani@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the role of art and culture in supporting rural development in the context of critical water challenges. It focuses on an interdisciplinary network and research programme conducted in 2018 with the village of Jhakhoda, in Rajasthan, India. The village has experienced years of declining water quality and has recently turned to rainwater harvesting and other conservation measures as a means to address water challenges. The research team sought to support local NGO and village efforts through creative, regionally specific forms of cultural activity. Through our project, we found that arts approaches can contribute to changes in the way people understand water and environmental challenges and can play a significant role in working towards sustainable water futures.

KEYWORDS: Water, interdisciplinarity, art, puppetry, mural, Phad painting, Rajasthan, India