The 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 2020. This grant, which marks the third year of 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. This grant is in line with SSAF’s commitment to work with cross-disciplinary initiatives addressing the oppressed and the marginalised, and alternative and heterodox practices in the arts and in intellectual work.

The grant aims to:

  • Support research on critical histories of art writing, art-making, and visual culture in twentieth/twenty-first century India and 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 histories of dalit, feminist, peasant, working-class, and other social and political movements, viewed as a 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 analyses of regional discourses and debates in politics and culture, preferably in but not limited to the regional languages.

Researchers are encouraged to propose projects that open new areas of study; offer close readings of images and texts; map circuits of dissemination; and suggest new connections between the visual arts, existing intellectual histories, and social, political, and cultural movements.

Grant Focus for 2020

The focus of the SSAF–AAA Research Grant this year is periodicals as a site that shapes 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, etc.—contributed to, constituted, and were embedded in the cultural politics of a historical moment. Preference will be given to proposals that focus on how the visual arts—including cover art, illustrations, cartoons, centre spreads, photographs, portfolios, and reproductions of artworks—were positioned in periodicals in different languages and/or different regions. Areas of research may include: 

  • One or more social movements that were covered in periodicals and mapping the place of visuals therein.
  • An interesting moment in the life of one or more periodicals, and the role of visuals therein.
  • The travel of ideas on arts, aesthetics, and cultural practices within periodicals, and as they occurred via translation between languages.
  • The intellectual contribution of one or more writers, editors, or publishers who played an important role in the evolution of a periodical, and in the positioning of visual arts within it.
  • Debates on concepts and categories stemming from regional languages, as reflected 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 who are already engaged in research, with access to private or public collections; or who have professional experience in writing/publishing; or activists with years of engagement/experience in their chosen fields.

Deadline for Applications
Extended to 15 July 2020

Duration of Grant
One year | 1 September 2020–31 August 2021

Grant Amount
Up to INR 3,00,000

Grant Deliverables

A detailed report (of not less than 7,500 words) on the research undertaken, to be submitted at the conclusion of the grant period. An interim mid-term report of 1000-1500 words.

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 in the research
  • Timeline of the periodical/writer/subject under study
  • Original, digitised, or photocopied material collected during research

A public presentation of the research, to be organised by AAA in collaboration with other institutions and organisations (venue and dates to be confirmed)



Guidelines for Research Proposals/Topics

  • Research proposals with clearly defined objectives and an outline of the significance of the proposed area/topic of research
  • Research topics that are interdisciplinary and attentive to social movements
  • Research topics that engage with regional cultures and languages
  • Research topics that focus on modern and contemporary art and visual cultures
  • Proposals feasible for completion within the given 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 for interviews on the basis of their applications. The interviews will be conducted at Sher-Gil Sundaram Art Foundation, Delhi, in August 2020; and one grantee will be selected from among those interviewed by a panel consisting of one external member, one member from SSAF, and one member from AAA in India. Only the selected grantee will be notified, on a date no later than 31 August 2020.


Application Requirements

  1. A cover letter with your name, postal address, email address, telephone number (if available), along with the names and email addresses of two referees with experience in the area of your proposed research
  2. A CV no more than two pages/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 project’s realisation
    (iv) No more than five images of proposed research material in a single PDF file
  4. 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 than 15 July 2020, with the subject line "SSAF-AAA Research Grant 2020." Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered.

You can read more about the the grantee from 2019, Shrujuna Niranjani Shridhar, here.


Image: Vrishchik (Year 1, No. 11-12), September/October 1970. Gulammohammed Sheikh Archive, AAA Collection.
Image: Vrishchik (Year 1, No. 11-12), September/October 1970. Gulammohammed Sheikh Archive, AAA Collection.

Relevant content

A bird
Building Asia Art Archive, Part 2
LIKE A FEVER | Conversations

Building Asia Art Archive, Part 2

AAA Researchers Sabih Ahmed and Sneha Ragavan discuss their work on histories, contemporary art, and the South Asia region

writing dossiers
Crossing Borders: Art and Artists’ Writings Across Languages
LIKE A FEVER | Conversations

Crossing Borders: Art and Artists’ Writings Across Languages

On the challenges of researching art writing across multiple languages and translations in South Asia

publication projects_list
Writing Art - A Publications Project

Writing Art - A Publications Project

2013 - Ongoing

Fields of Legibility: Disciplines and Practices of Art Writing in India - Kochi
Programmes | Writing Art - A Publications Project

Fields of Legibility: Disciplines and Practices of Art Writing in India - Kochi

Wed, 6 Feb 2013, 10 AM – 5 PM

Fictional Configurations
Writing Art Dossier One: Fictional Configurations

Writing Art Dossier One: Fictional Configurations