Public Echoes and Social Impact

The work of our team has been followed closely by the Indian media. Several articles have been published in English and Malayalam in The Hindu, the New Indian Express, Malayala Manorama, Matrubrhumi, and others. Indian government circles are helpful and sympathetic to our endeavour, which has triggered an entire archives’ preservation movement in Kerala.

News about the project has been spread most efficiently through the blogs and interviews of one of the most famous Indian novelists, Amitav Gosh.[1] The lasting social impact of the project is most important. It was planned as an explicitly non-colonial endeavour and it also aimed at training or contributing to the training of local experts who are continuing the work in situ. Thus, the Rev. Ignatius Payyappilly, archivist of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocesan Archives, not only received much support from the project but was encouraged to go to Liverpool and earn an MA in Archives Management, after which he enrolled in a PhD program at the Indira Gandhi Open University New Delhi and earned his degree based on a thesis on the palm leaf material collected by the project. He has been instrumental in rearranging and modernizing many church archives, as well as in conserving thousands of manuscripts and rescuing many artworks that otherwise would have been lost to decay or to the black market. As one of the best trained archivists in India, he was appointed advisor to the archives of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and also to Christy Fernandez, former Secretary to the President of India. He is publishing books and articles on the results of the project.

Dr. Susan Thomas, now Professor at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, has written ground-breaking articles on the palm leaf material and was granted one of the two prestigious UGC (University Grants Commission, New Delhi, India) National Research awards for post-doctoral research on “Historicizing Church and Community: Syrian Christian Community in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Kerala” for the years 2015-2017. She is using the palm leaves especially for writing women’s history. Anaz Abdulkareem, who served as cataloguer of the project until 2009, is now a lecturer in History at Farook College, Calicut.



[1] See Mahmood Kooria, “Between the Walls of Archives and Horizons of Imagination: An Interview with Amitav Ghosh,” Itinerario 36, no. 3 (2012): 7-18, DOI: 10.1017/S0165115313000028. See also