I’m Karthik Malli, an independent researcher and writer based in Bangalore, India.
My work primarily focuses on the intersection of language, history, and identity in the Deccan region and India’s southwestern coast — more or less corresponding to the Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, and Telangana.
I believe in highlighting local experience, pursuing lines of enquiry that present the subject in its own organic, synchronic environment as opposed to viewing it as peripheral to something else. I also make it a point to work with non-English resources, and archives.
Nearly all of my work is centered in regions that are traditionally not engaged with on their own terms in Anglophone Indian discourse.
Epigraphy, medieval literary traditions, European-Indian contact, early printing, minority language histories, medieval architecture (temples, mosques, and mausolea), are all themes I’m deeply interested in and have worked on in different roles and projects.
Here, Typotheque Specimen #18, with Typotheque, a type foundry based in The Hague, The Netherlands. My contribution to the project was research and text for script summaries including Georgian, Cyrillic, Armenian, Devanagari, and Japanese kana. Here won the 2022 TDC Award for Communication Design.
Devanagari — The Makings of a National Character, with Typotheque, on the typographic evolution of the Devanagari script in print, as it intersected with socio-political, literary, and nationalist movements. Research for this essay came from visits to Marathi and Hindi language archives, and involved an in-depth look into literary movements in Marathi and Hindi, technological developments in print, and nationalist thought.
Most of what I do is based on existing academic research in history and linguistics, supplemented by my own explorations and enquiries, and finally, interpretations.
I have reasonable reading proficiency in Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Portuguese, and Urdu, and can make sense of smaller, simpler texts in Marathi and Malayalam with a dictionary. In keeping with my philosophy of looking beyond merely English, my language skills come in handy while working with a wider range of sources.
I also have some basic familiarity with Python, which I’m working on improving and hope to use more extensively in the near future.