The Archival and Research Project (ARPO) is a not-for-profit organisation* founded in 2021 to discover and share lesser known aspects of our cultural heritage in accessible and creative ways.
Based out of Kerala, we engage in digital archiving, multimedia storytelling, research, community engagement and interventions to preserve and promote our pluralistic cultural heritage. Our areas of interest include local histories, art, architecture, culture and folklore.
ARPO is set up as a Society under the Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955 (Reg Number: TVM/TC/830/2021).*
Our primary aim is to make lesser discussed cultural knowledge accessible. We do this by identifying subjects and engaging with them through creative cultural and social projects. These are shared on popular media to foster better connections between a wide range of audiences and the subjects of interest.
Beyond documentation, our idea of conservation and promotion looks for ways for reconnection. For those familiar with the cheering cry ‘ARPO’, usually heard at the regatta races of Kerala, it is followed by a resounding ‘IRO’. We could not help but expand this thinking to see if cultural archiving could be extended through active engagement processes like Intervention, Restoration and Outreach. This could mean facilitating creative collaborations for artists, artisans and other cultural practitioners in the creative and financial economy.
At ARPO we share a collective belief that understanding our culture and heritage will help us create an inclusive, equitable and sustainable future.
We work towards filling out a cultural picture by presenting a variety of lesser-discussed topics in tune with our goal to celebrate our pluralistic heritage.
Much like the vision for our work, we believe our working environment should be one where everybody is heard and remains open to new ideas.
We believe the sustainability of any cultural enterprise lies in the active engagement with it. Through our projects we look for ways to preserve and promote cultural practitioners by facilitating the space and environment for them to grow.
We envision ARPO as a space of cultural agency where creative energies can meet, both traditional and non-conventional, and are given fair compensation for their efforts and thereby better presence in the cultural sphere.
Amiya J Hisham
Amiya is a designer and writer with an interest in culture, language and ecology among other things. She completed her bachelor’s degree in architecture at the University of Kerala in 2016 and her master’s degree in film at the Paris School of Art and Culture (University of Kent), in 2022. She has worked with various organisations, associating in the fields of her interest, including the Kochi Muziris Biennale, G5 Art Foundation, the Avani Institute of Design and DC Kizhakemuri Foundation. On most days you will find her crouching over the plants in her garden before her day begins.
Sruthin Lal is a social entrepreneur, multimedia journalist and storyteller who works on formats such as video, podcast and longform text. Previously, he led the newsroom of Asiaville, covered the business beat for Hindustan Times, co-founded media project Happy Aano, and occasionally wrote articles for The Hindu Frontline Magazine. An alumnus of Asian College of Journalism, Sruthin was listed among 51 notable mobile journalists by Journalism.co.uk in 2021. His noted work was the coverage of the migrant labour crisis in Uttar Pradesh during the Covid lockdown in the form of a documentary, which he and his colleague shot on mobile phones by travelling about 700 on bicycles from Delhi to Lucknow. He has a background in Indian Classical music and dance and is deeply passionate about art, history and culture. He was part of the founding team of ARPO.
Parvathi A R
Head of Events
Parvathi is a passionate researcher and an art enthusiast and a co-founder of ARPO. She holds a Master's in Economics from Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics and was working as Assistant Professor of Economics in Govt College Munnar. She is on a sabbatical to pursue a PhD in Public Policy from IIT Delhi. She is a Mohiniyattam dancer and also a trained singer. She has hosted cultural events for organisations including ICCR. Books are her companions and she also loves to travel.
Sreenath is a lawyer by training and currently an independent researcher working at the cross intersection of Intellectual Property, Health and Cultural Expression. His interest in art, culture and heritage was choicely nurtured by the vibrant environment he grew up in, where every belief and practice had a story to tell. Over the past years, he has engaged in an attempt to refine the access to benefit sharing models particularly in the area of cultural expression and traditional knowledge and is now with ARPO to channel the same.
Majeesh Karayad is a folk singer and ethnic arts practitioner hailing from North Kozhikode. He is the winner of the prestigious Kerala State Folklore Academy award and has been in the field of folklore for over two decades. Majeesh also holds a Gaana Bhooshanam certificate in Carnatic music from Chembai Memorial Government Music College, Palakkad. He travels extensively across Kerala to explore tribal and folk songs and bring them to light on platforms such as school youth festivals. He also conducts folk performances, workshops, and training programs in schools across the state and leads a music group called Nanthalakkoottam. His work at ARPO involves leading the LoreKeepers project through his engagement with specific communities and schools.
Ashin is a postgraduate in economics from Loyola College, Chennai, with experience in Economic advisory services for domestic and international government bodies. His research interests include history, socio-economic studies, and politics. He works closely with startups and media management houses in their strategy building processes and project execution.
ARPO is a growing community of researchers, storytellers, artists and creative professionals of different stripes. We are fortunate to also have the advisory counsel of Manu S Pillai, Manju Sara Rajan, BR Swarup, and CK Ramachandran who have been generous with their time and wealth of knowledge in their respective fields to support our work.
If you like our work and would like to get in touch with us, write to us at email@example.com.
You can also find us on social media.