Megha Rajguru
20102024

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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Megha Rajguru's central research interests are: Design and material culture in South Asia, museum collections and exhibitions. In particular, her research focuses on decolonial strategies in design history writing, and transnational design histories, addressing ways in which design has been produced, displayed and consumed within South Asia and beyond. Her current research is particularly concerned with international development and the shaping of design in India between 1947-1985. As such, she has published on the development of the design curriculum at the Industrial Design Centre, IIT, Mumbai, under the aegis of industrial development in the 1950s through partnerships with UNESCO and Japanese designers. She is currently writing on design in India within the context of national and international development from the 1950s onwards.

A common strand in Megha's research is the geopolitics of design and decolonial approaches to writing design histories. She has been working on collaborative projects that examine Asian design and modernity, postcolonial visual cultures, and ethnnographic displays in museums.

Megha’s PhD (2010) was a study of the curating of Indian religious artefacts in British museums and galleries. It examined interpretive practices surrounding intangible qualities of votive artefacts. The research makes a contribution to the study of curating objects of worship, an ongoing debate in museum studies, and offers alternative modes of curatorial thinking that are closely aligned to art practice.

Scholarly biography

Dr Megha Rajguru is Co-Diector of the Centre for Design History and Co-Subject Lead of the subject group Literature, Art History and Creative Writing in the School of Humanities and Social Science.

She is Principal Lecturer in BA Art History and Visual Culture, and BA Fashion and Design History. She also teaches on MA History of Design and Material Culture and MA Curating Collections and Heritage. She is a former Trustee and Learning and Teaching Officer (including Essay Prize and Design Writing Prize Officer) of the Design History Society (2017-2020). Megha won the GCRF International Fellow Scheme in 2020 and the University of Brighton's Rising Star award with Dr Yunah Lee for a two-year collaborative research project (2015-17) Modular Living in Asia and co-convened the international conference Modern Living in Asia 1970-1990 in Brighton in April 2017. She is the co-editor of Design and Modernity in Asia: National Identity and Transnational Exchanges (Bloomsbury, 2022) and is currently co-editing The Dynamics of Modern Asian Design: Material Culture and Social Agency (Bloomsbury, under contract)

Megha has published her research across a range of journals including the Journal of Design History, Studies in the Histories of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, Journal of Museum Ethnography and Journal of Visual Arts Practice. She co-convened the College Arts Association 2020 DHS Annual Conference panel "Decolonising Design History". Megha also co-convened and chaired a conference panel at the 2013 Design History Society Annual Conference entitled "Exhibiting South Asia" at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. She co-presented a paper with Dr Nicola Ashmore on the Hindu Shrine project at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery (2002), now published as a chapter in Design Objects and the Museum (Bloomsbury) in 2016. 

Megha has a delivered papers on decolonial design history methodologies and postcolonial visual culture at the Research Centre for Material Culture, Museum of World Cultures, Leiden (2017), Wolverhampton Art Gallery (2018), and at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London (2019). She was a keynote speaker at the MSt History of Design and Material Culture symposium, University of Oxford (2019)

Megha's early research engaged with contemporary networks of design and local creative industries. She was Research Fellow on the AHRC funded Brighton Fuse 2 project (2013-14), which mapped and measured the Creative Digital Information Technology (CDIT) freelance cluster in Brighton and Hove, UK. She interviewed local designers and made policy recommendations with the Fuse research team to government representatives.

Megha has worked in gallery education in 2004-05 at Tate Britain. She is a Visiting Faculty member at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. She is a peer reviewer for various journals such as the Journal of Design HistoryThird Text and Craft Research.

Supervisory Interests

I would be delighted to supervise research projects that focus on the politics of modernisation through design in postcolonial contexts, the histories of design and craft in South Asia, art, design and politics in India and modernisms beyond the west.

I am currently supervising PhD research projects on Australian aboriginal textile production (Design Star funded); technology and the experience of art in contemporary museums, and museum engagement with South Asian communities in the UK (CDP with British Museum). 

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Brighton

Award Date: 30 Aug 2010

Master, University of Brighton

External positions

External Examiner, Bath Spa University

1 Sept 202030 Jun 2024

Trustee, Learning and Teaching Officer (including Essay Prize and Design Writing Prize Officer), Design History Society

1 Sept 201731 Jan 2020

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