Through her ethnographic insights, not only does she capture her life, times and methodologies in them; she also documents glimpses of our cultural heritage in forms as authentic as possible, as they fight a losing battle against its erosion through globalisation. For instance, her ethnographic photo documentation of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands start from years before the Tsunami. Post the Tsunami, the landscape and settlements in Andaman and Nicobar have been reconfigured. Dr. Varadarajan's academic merits have generated interest of many researchers from the field of Maritime History.

The intrinsic value of Dr. Varadarajan's research collection lies in its spanning of the length and breadth of India's cultural heritage. Her extensive photo documentation offers a rich resource of seafaring communities from Andaman and Nicobar islands, Lakshadweep, Gujarat and parts of Orissa from 1960s onwards. A significant chunk of her manuscripts, draft papers and research material have remained unpublished, and might be of great interest to those who pursue similar fields of enquiries. Her letters, postcards, and other correspondence with some of the leading historians and ethnographers of her time also indicate the research environment and the exchanges that were possible within it. In her collection are also present, a large number of subject-related books, from all over the world, some of which are out of print now or rare collectibles. Her sets of field notes, journals, texts, research diaries, audio recordings annotate her work and offer rare ethnographic insights.

A trajectory of her work helps us understand how her earliest subject areas caused her to find links between foreign trade, India's textile trade routes and eventually the indigenous seafaring practices of coastal communities' that enhanced their knowledge and navigation of the sea routes.

Special Features of the Collection
 
- Over 300 photographs of documenting field sites
 
- 40 published and many more unpublished papers.
 
- Research notes and field diaries from Lakshadweep and Andaman islands
 
- Correspondence with renowned academics from the field of maritime history
 
- Snippets of interviews with Dr. Varadarajan describing her work and ethnographic research.
Key Research Areas
INDEGENOUS BOAT BUILDING TECHNOLOGIES
NAVIGATIONAL, NAUTICAL AND ASTRONOMICAL COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE IN THE INDIAN OCEAN 
TRADE CONTACTS AND INTERATIONS OF INDIAN COASTAL SEAFARING COMMUNITIES
PORTUGUESE ENCOUNTERS IN MARITIME TRADITIONS
HISTORIES OF MARITIME COMMUNITIES AND SEAFARING CULTURES
INDIAN VOYAGES AND EXPLORATIONS

About the Archive

The Dr. Lotika Varadarajan Research Collection is the academic work and ethnographic field data of a researcher who has been active since the 1960s. Over the years, she developed an ethno-historical working method and her work evolved to bond chronological sources with material objects, cultural habitats, technological processes and oral sources. Through her work she sought to achieve an understanding of the traditional knowledge systems of Indian artisanal and tribal communities and their modes of transmission.

Amongst Dr. Lotika Varadrajan's research collection, the Archive of Indian Maritime Traditions is certainly most erudite, for the unconventional sources and methods she employed, the communities and geographies she chose to map, and most importantly her academic findings - where she delved into nuances of local boat building, indigenous navigation and cartography, maritime communities and their cultural specificities.

ARCHIVES OF INDIAN MARITIME COMMUNITY TRADITIONS

Archive created by the Centre for Community Knowledge, Ambedkar University Delhi
with the support of
Vasant J Sheth Memorial Foundation, and
Project Mausam, Indira Gandhi Centre for the Arts