Teaching; you do it because you could not easily live without it.


Alka Hingorani teacher in film, photography and story-telling

I am Associate Professor at IDC-School of Design, IIT-Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, India. A photographer and art historian, my interests in Indian art lie geographically in the lower Himalayas, and thematically in issues of aesthetics and identity. 

Why did this type of work interest you, and how did you get started?

I have always been a bit of learning-teaching junkie. I spent a good part of my life as a Graduate Student (and, consequently, a Graduate Student Instructor) at the University of California, Berkeley.

What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging?

Almost everything about it is awesome: creating a safe space for students to read, write, think, analyze, trip over their own thoughts, recover, eyes shining, as they walk the tight-rope of doubt and rumination again! It is all both challenging and satisfying. The other aspect that is fun and formidable is time and resources for research. My own is currently in the area of education: content design for English language learning in resource-constrained areas, with an emphasis on equipping and allowing children to become content creators rather than mere consumers. We collaborate on storytelling, storyboarding, book illustration, book design, and short animation films (work-in-progress) based on those books and stories. It’s a dream!

What do you like and not like about working in this industry?

I love the company of students, the promise and reality of friendships and collaborations across disciplines in a place like IIT. I deeply dislike the hierarchical structure of decision-making and the huge burden of inconsequential administrative work, beyond the call of reason.

What are your long-term goals?

To forever be amongst students.

What special advice do you have for a student seeking to qualify for this position?

If you don’t love it, leave it. Teaching is never going to make you money; you do it because you could not easily live without it.

My strongest assets/skills, areas of knowledge, personality traits and values are….

Luckily, an interest in a variety of different disciplines including photography, architecture, art history, evolutionary biology, cosmology—science, in general, I suppose, a love for photography, film (esp. analyses), and for making things: pottery, woodworking, origami are special joys, though I’m a novice at each.

Alka’s book on her work with mohras and mohra-makers in Himachal Pradesh is called Making Faces: Self and Image Creation in a Himalayan Valley (University of Hawai’i Press, 2013; Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2013). More information on the book here.