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You are here: Home / Membership / Board election 2020 / Board candidates 2020 / Rathna Ramanathan

Rathna Ramanathan

London, UK • Running for a three-year term


I am a typographer and graphic designer from India who is based in London. I work primarily with intercultural communication contexts whether that is research, practice or teaching. I am interested in being on the board of ATypI for both the challenges and the opportunities it brings. In terms of challenges, ATypI is an international type organisation and it is critical that we take an inclusive, diverse approach to the mission of the organisation. 

We must work with our members rather than for our members to lead the mission for an international approach to language, typography, type design. It is diversity of voice that makes us innovative, relevant and respected. This requires an embedded and intersectional approach that decolonises Western design practices and affords ‘an equality of opportunities to different kinds of knowledge’ (de Sousa Santos, 2008), and requires structures to maintain dialogue, active listening and cooperation. 

In terms of opportunities, I would like to highlight the importance of typography/type design from purely form-making to creating critical and social impact. This gives us ‘a way of thinking and making in the world, and a way of thinking and making worlds’ (Marshall, 2015). I also interested in embedding and contributing to the mission, vision and strategic plan for the organisation from the perspective of other knowledges including those from the Global South. 

With regards to the overall duties and responsibilities, I lead an international school at the Royal College of Art, and am on several academic and non-academic boards. I have resource management expertise as well as intercultural organisational expertise.

Dr Rathna Ramanathan is a typographer and Reader in Intercultural Communication, known for her expertise in working with marginalised communities and contexts using alternative publishing practices. She works in international cross-disciplinary teams and takes a decolonial, cooperative approach to leading the research, design and delivery of communication on projects for BBC World (Hindi and Bangla), British Council, UNICEF India, World Bank, as well as publishers Tara Books and Harvard University Press. Themes of urban and cultural heritage resonate in Rathna’s work including the relevance of tangible (archives) and intangible (oral texts) heritages in multiple languages and contemporary design (Murty Classical Library of India); cities envisioned through rural/indigenous creative imaginations (The London Jungle Book with Bhajju Shyam and Tara Books); dialogues of people, politics and place (BBC’s Voice of the People campaign); as well as working with endangered Indian heritages (archives, texts and marginalised and indigenous community rituals). Rathna is interested in the role of the communicator/ designer in addressing critical human and non-human challenges. She believes that communication should be a fundamental human right; and is a radical and meaningful tool that can create lasting positive change in the way in which we describe, interact and connect with each other. Rathna is Dean of Communication at the Royal College of Art, London and ATypI's Delegate for India.

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