Cristin McKnight Sethi

photo of Cristin McKnight Sethi
Assistant Professor of Art History, Administrator of Graduate Studies
Art History Program
Smith Hall of Art, Rm. 106B, 801 22nd St NW; Washington D. 20052
[email protected]


Professor McKnight Sethi is a curator and historian of South Asian art. Her research and teaching interests include textiles and folk art, the intersection of gender and practices of making, networks of circulation and exchange, the anthropology of art, and postcolonial theory. She has published on contemporary craft in India, the history of natural dyes in Asia, and the production and circulation of folk embroidery during the late nineteenth century. She has also held curatorial and research positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the UCLA Fowler Museum, the Asian Art Museum San Francisco, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Her courses include Asian Textiles in Context (AH 3181), Indian Painting (AH 3182W), and South Asian Art (AH 2191) in addition to thematic seminars on colonialism and collecting, material culture of the Indian Ocean littoral, and modern and contemporary art in South Asia (AH 4182 / 4181 / 6262 / 6261).  


Current Research

Professor McKnight Sethi’s current book project examines female labor and hand-embroidery in Punjab during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.



  • “Satin Stitched Stories: Narrativity and Pictorial Strategies in a Ramayana Rumal.” Pahari Coverlets: Jewel of Embroidery, edited by Anamika Pathak. New Delhi: National Museum New Delhi / B.R. Publishing, 2018. 
  •  “Faith and Identity in Silk, Cotton, and Wool: Textiles from The Kapany Collection.” Sikh Art from
The Kapany Collection, edited by Paul Michael Taylor and Sonia Dhami. Palo Alto: The Sikh Foundation in association with the Asian Cultural History Program, Smithsonian Institution, 2017. Pp 249-266. 
  •  “The Many Meanings of Punjabi Phulkaris.” Phulkari: The Embroidered Textiles of Punjab from the
Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection, edited by Darielle Mason. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2017. Pp 13-36. 
  • Women’s Work: Phulkari, Flora Annie Steel, and Collecting Textiles in British India.” Women, Gender, and Art in Early Modern Asia, edited by Mellia Belli Bose. New York: Routledge (Ashgate), 2016. Pp 172-198. 
  • “To Dye For: The Many Reds of Asia.” A Red Like No Other: How Cochineal Colored The World, edited by Barbara Anderson and Carmella Padilla. New York: Rizzoli, 2015. Pp 68-71. 
  • “Mapping Craft in Contemporary India: Dilli Haat and Dastkari Haat Samiti’s Crafts Maps.” Journal of Modern Craft Vol. 6, No. 1. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2013. Pp 49-77. 



MA Art History, University of Texas at Austin
PhD Art History, University of California, Berkeley


Professional Organizations

  • American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA)
  • American Institute for Pakistan Studies (AIPS)
  • Association for Asian Studies (AAS)
  • The Textile Museum Journal
  • Textile Society of America