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Seher Mirza

MPhil work

Threads of the Indus

This PhD research started with two main questions concerning rural craft communities, mainly women, in Sindh, Pakistan. First, the quality of traditional stitch-craft practice within these communities and second, the quality of empowerment strategies employed thus far.

Textile practice can serve as a medium of communication for qualitative research, exploring aspects of co-design, workshop methods, empowerment strategies and reflective thinking. This in turn helps to understand better the agency of making as part of a relationship between creativity as a method of liberation in rural Pakistan and urban London.

The aim was to explore the qualities of empowerment generated by the co-design encounter between makers as a shared community of young women. The product of the shared encounter between craftswomen is a reciprocal creative agency for each. Through this process a new method of enabling women to use their traditional skills in creative and innovative ways was initiated.

Further, as commitment to the community the research worked with, a parallel social enterprise pilot, S jo was created as an outlet for the creative outcomes of the project and to ensure a steady stream of decent income.


  • MPhil


    School of Design


    Textiles, 2009–2016

  • As a textile designer and weaver, hand making is very close to my heart. I am passionate about working with communities of indigenous craft not just to provide steady income streams but more importantly autonomy and a realisation of their own potential as highly skilled makers and individuals. I am drawn to exploring how material culture practices could influence and bring about transformative social change (Paulo Freire and Jack Mezirow) in traditional and marginalised societies. I am keen to explore craft making practice through phenomenological ideas that rely on embodied and lived experiences using material and social relationships to learn, exchange and develop both one's own understanding and that of collaborators.  

  • Degrees

  • MA Ethical Fashion, University for the Creative Arts, London, 2009; BA (Hons) Textile Design, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, 2007
  • Experience

  • Project founder and director, S Jo Accessories , London, 2009–13; Consultant, Princes School of Traditional Art, London, 2008; Project manager, Rural Support Programmes Network, Islamabad, 2007–08; Project founder and director, Threads of the Indus, Pakistan, 2010–15
  • Exhibitions

  • Threads of the Indus, Royal College of Art, London, 2015; Work–in–Progress Show, Royal College of Art, London, 2014; Work–in–Progress Show, Royal College of Art, London, 2011; Work–in–ProgressShow, Royal College of Art, London, 2010
  • Conferences

  • Threads of Dialogue, Textiles, Communication and Politics at the 32nd annual Textile Society Conference, 2014
  • Publications

  • 'Threads of the Indus: Dialogues and empowerment through textile craft for traditional artisanal communities in Pakistan', Text Journal, Vol.42, 2014–2015