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Independent Fellowship Programme – Abstracts 2006-07
Posted By Sarai On October 11, 2008 @ 12:23 pm In Fellowships | Comments Disabled
Priya Babu, Chennai
Aravanis, called Hijrahs in north India, have existed in Tamilnadu for several centuries. Though born biologically as males, they closely identify themselves as girl/woman. By doing so, they undergo a lot of suffering due to the great psychological pressure exerted by different social forces that prevail. Because of lack of understanding among the general public and the society, those who do not behave like boys are often discrimination and even face violence from their own family members. Hence they are forced to leave their family members and later join the Aravani community, which accepts them and provides support.
This research will study and document the Tamilnadu Aravani community’s varied musical (household, ceremonial, ritualistic and popular) performance forms as well as their theatrical (theru koothu) tradition. It will try to understand different sects and their hierarchies with a focus on interrelations during public celebrations and private gatherings. In the process, the project will also document their worshipping places, their relation with the god Aravan and the story of how they became linked with mainstream society.
Priya Babu is a Chennai-based researcher, journalist and coordinator of the theatre group, ‘Kannadi Kalai Kuzhu’. She is herself a member of the Aravani community.
Dwaipayan Banerjee, Delhi
Science and technology studies is a growing inter-disciplinary field of research and within it, the sub-discipline of postcolonial technoscience studies is fast gaining currency. Within this discipline I hope to look at programs and programmers of cryptographic code in India. There has been lot of talk (both commonsensical and specialist) about information as trans-national flow, about the liberating qualities of cyberspace. To provide some balance to these claims, even a cursory glance at recent IT legislation on cryptography provides sobering insights into how completely the State enables itself to control flow by decrypting every kind of communication at will. Cryptographic code and its use is then a fertile area of study, as it emerges at the interstices of law, national security and citizen’s privacy.
Methodologically, one would hope to build on insights from science-tech studies and follow engineers (in case this programmers) and their products (cryptographic code) through a process of innovation, use and institutionalisation. It is hoped that the end product for the Sarai archive will be a well-researched paper on the cryptographic practices of programmers, the use of their code and governmental legislation.
Dwaipayan Banerjee is an MPhil student of sociology, with particular interests in the anthropology of science, political theory and literature.
Smita Banerjee, Delhi
I propose to excavate a history of the relationship between popular cinema and the city through the narrative prism of some 1950s and 60s popular Bangla cinema. I would like to focus on the emergence of a specific urban middle class aesthetic that is spatially and cinematically articulated through its location in the city of Kolkata. Films such as Saptapadi (1961), Harano Sur (1951), Saat Pake Bandha (1963), Uttar Phalguni (1966), Abhoyar Biye (1957), Teen Bhuboner Paare (1969), Trijama (1956), Sagarika (1956), Pathey Holo Deri (1957), Agnipariksha (1954), Bipasha (1962), Chaoa Paoa (1959), Deya Neya (1963), Bicharak (1959), etc. negotiate a complex relationship of middle class characters to the city through a narrative investment in foregrounding the themes of work, profession, intercaste, interracial love, interpersonal conflicts, choice of career and new and different focus on the working woman and her identity.
I will attempt to show how this cinematic engagement with the urban city and modernity and the woman is not only a fashioning but a self–fashioning of the urban middle class Bengali identity. Through a foregrounding of the representation of the city in cinema, I will attempt to recover a history of the spatial negotiations that help these middle class characters to map, appropriate and articulate their lived experience in urban Kolkata of the 1950s and 60s. I will also attempt to historicise this cinematic articulation as a document/archive of the lived city which can be used to formulate (a) thesis of a specific self fashioning of the Bengali middle class, (b) to locate the imaginary of this of this cinema within the emergence of a new popular engaged in mapping a feminine subjectivity in the modern city.
Smita Banerjee is a senior lecturer in English at the Delhi College of Arts & Commerce, Delhi University.
Julius Basaiawmoit and Renee C. Lulam, Shillong
What is ‘cosmopolitan’ about a small city, hub of the Northeast, with a layered history of having been a colonial capital, then that of undivided Assam in post-independent India, and later, in 1972, the capital of a hill state carved out of Assam?
With spurts of communal violence since 1979, the dynamics of public spaces within Shillong have subtly shifted. Violence has been targeted at specific communities, even as prejudices between and across communities continue.
Engagement with the past is intensely personal, and a resource for enhancing identity as well as explaining experience. Oral history’s potential for deeply evocative accounts creates innovative avenues for understanding personal events as profoundly social. This allows a broader perception of human interactions that have shaped the past and continue into the present.
With this backdrop, the project proposes to investigate if the urban spaces of Shillong truly express a cosmopolitan environment. Through audio-recordings and an interpretative paper of oral testimonies from individuals of various backgrounds, the project enquires into the central question of indigeneity versus the cosmopolitan in public spaces within the city of Shillong.
Julius specializes in sound for film and television. Renee works with independent research based projects. Both are from Shillong.
Mithun Narayan Bose, Kolkata
The paintings behind the rickshaws of the city of Calcutta are a unique example of an unnoticed urban folk-art, and the detailed study of the paintings can be an alternative way to know about the life of these people. As most of the Calcutta Rickshaw-pullers have migrated to the city from other places, the paintings’ style reflect the form/ style of art available at the rickshaw-puller’s place of origin. A unique heterogeneity is also observed due to its confluence with the urban style. Thematically, the rickshaw paintings of Calcutta-streets are of different types (e.g. religious, landscape, portrait of near and dear ones, film star etc.). In this proposed project, the painting behind the rickshaws will be documented with the help of both video recording and photography. The mode of presentation will be in the form of a documentary film. It will be supplemented by an academic paper (which will include the interviews with the rickshaw-pullers, owners and painters). Some photographs of the paintings will also be submitted as a part of the archive.
Mithun Narayan Bose is a language teacher at a Kolkata school. He contributes regularly to several Kolkata little magazines, and his interests include poetry, folklore, cultural anthropology, art and art criticism.
Pritham Chakravarty, Chennai
Theatre in Tamilnadu has a long and varied history, ever since Sankaradas Swamigal brought regularity into the running of professional
theatre with the Boys Companies. The Dravidian movement had a deep impact on the growth of Tamil theatre, with C. N. Annadurai and M.
Karunanidhi being its star writers. Sustaining these groups became financially nonviable after the late 50s with the emergence of cinema as the more popular medium of entertainment.
Family entertainment in Madras, now Chennai, in the 60s took a very interesting avatar. With the change in the local political scene and Tamil cinema audience itself largely divided between two loyalties —that of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan— the urban public created a new form of entertainment. In the 60s townships like T. Nagar, Mylapore, Triplicane, Nungambakkam and even the then suburb, Chromepet, with its very large middle-class population, sprang up with a number of Sabhas, which became the water-shed in the growth of art and culture.
By the early 70s, the audience had grown in other cities like Bombay, Delhi, and Calcutta. Late 70s television with its weekend quota of films and song-and-dance sequences lured the audience away from the sabhas. While for some time sabhas occupied themselves with bharathnatyam and carnatic music shows this could never promise the once regular members’ return to the halls. Post-Emergency also saw several contemporary theatre groups emerge in the city. Though these groups occasionally hired the sabhas for their performances, the audience was a niche group that could never fill the space. By the late 80s the sabhas were practically empty.
The research itself opts to concentrate on the growth of the sabhas and the amateur theatre groups, considering their impact on the larger theatre audience. Many of the agents are still alive and are active elsewhere. Scripts of a few have been published. The audio and DVD market for some of the plays have grown. But none of these have been archived. Reviews of most plays are non-existent. In fact many do not know their plays were reviewed at all. While theatre in Maharashtra and Kolkata receive plenty of state patronage, in Tamilnadu only contemporary forms are able to draw state or corporate support. Thus a form of theatre that even emerged because of the sheer nature of this urban space is today left to die a slow death.
Pritham Chakravarthy is a performer and writer based in Chennai.
Arnab Chatterjee, Kolkata
The key to understanding modernity is the public/private divide and a corresponding failure to find a way beyond the binary. A stream of discourses could be recalled which had proposed, in their desperate will to move beyond this liberal dilemma, alternative versions of the private and the public where the personal appeared as another version of the private. My work argues the personal as a beyond of private/public binary and distinguishes it from the private vis-à-vis the public. Having recuperated the personal as a suppressed narrative using historical and socio-theoretic tools, I interrupt it by thematizing the category ( though not limiting it) through the cultural self understanding of particular communities and deploy it by using the registers of personalist social work. [Deriving its force from social and psychotherapeutic case work, personalist social work denied to be absorbed in either the public (the governmental state) or the private ( resistance to publicity)].
This study will limit itself to exploring how the personal negotiates with the questions of publicity/mediation in the context of colonial Calcutta’s emerging civil society — energized by its claims to have generated modernity; a claim that continues to be examined even today. Embodying a will to become an academic research paper using secondary sources, the study will accumulate texts that range from the Calcutta Neo-Hegelian Hiralal Haldar’s debate with Mactaggart ( in the 1890’s) on whether the absolute or a school club has a personality (even if “the personality is a colony”) to how the personal or personalist social work may engender the first systematic critique of Partha Chatterjee’s revisionist notion of new Political Society ( in the wake of ‘welfare’ of the population) and whose examples are drawn from contemporary Calcutta.
Arnab Chatterjee is Doctoral Fellow at the department of Philosophy, Jadavpur University, Kolkata and on the visiting faculty of Ethics and Human Values at the Bengal Institute of Technology, Kolkata.
Neelima Chauhan, Delhi
This research proposes to do an online study of Hindi hyper text on Hindi blogs. It will be an attempt to make a critical appreciation of Language and style of hypertextual prose as it flows through the terminals of Hindi Bloggers. It will be an online study which will take in account the existing blogs, Hindi Networks, Blog Archives, Comments etc. Narratives from the Hindi Online community will be collected. The objective is to identify the construction of the grand narrative of ‘Hindi Jati’ (Hindi nationality) as described in Hindi literary criticism, especially that by Ram Vilas Sharma. This construction of Hindi Jati where geographical space seemingly becomes meaningless (or less important, at least) will be explored.
As the research will be an online study, its progress will be available to all interested in real time. Findings of the work will be shared through a Weblog Publication and will be presented at the final workshop.
Neelima‘s doctoral and Post doctoral work is in Post colonial Hindi Prose. She teaches Hindi at Delhi University’s Zakir Husain Post Graduate Evening College.
Raman Jit Singh Chima, Bangalore
Though considerable work has been done on exploring how the Internet is capable of being regulated, not much has been done to chart out the exact shape of such regulation of expression on the Internet in India. More importantly, the exact manner in which the Indian State has regulated the Internet through all the structures and mechanisms at its disposal has not been studied, which is important since this affects the flow of speech and expression.
In order to attempt to chart out the empirical aspects of Internet regulation in India and its linkages with normative frameworks, the
focus of this project is thus on the following two goals;Firstly, to track out and study the manner in which the Indian State regulates the Internet through legal structures and connected mechanism (both through formal legal rules as well as through informal measure such as executive action). Secondly, to analyze how this regulatory framework relates to the constitutional safeguards with respect to the limitations on state action viz. free speech and expression and whether it respects these constraints.
The findings obtained from the proposed field work (which will track the form, extent and purported rationale of such regulation) will be processed through the existing theoretical frameworks and the end result will be an paper which will present the manner in which the Indian State has regulated the Internet currently, along with a critical academic understanding of how this connects with constitutional safeguards with respect to freedom of speech and expression.
Raman Chima is pursuing the B.A.LL.B. (Hons) program at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore and is currently in the 3rd year of this course.
Burton Cleetus, Delhi
One of the most important interventions made by the “progressive” state of Travancore which later became part of the state of Kerala, was in the field of health care. The reorganization of the public health department with the aid of the Rockefeller Foundation of the United States was aimed at drafting a coherent health care policy for the state, primarily to cater to the needs of the emerging population in the urban centres. The study seeks to argue that the process of reconstituting the health care policy by the princely state in the early twentieth century was a political project of governance aimed at socio-cultural framing. A comparison between activities of the Rockefeller foundation in addressing the spread of Malaria and plague in the early twentieth century with the attempts made by the state of Kerala in tackling similar contagious diseases in recent times would enable to one understand the shifts in the frames of references of the nature of interventions of western medicine over the last century.
The study would fundamentally be based on the government documents from the Kerala state archives and on newspaper reports and clippings. The conclusions of the study would be presented as a research paper.
Burton Cleetus is a PhD scholar at the Center for Historical Studies, JNU. He did his post graduation and M Phil from JNU. His research on the institutionalization of indigenous medicine in Kerala is an attempt to explore as to how esoteric cultural practices and localized healing techniques were refashioned, revitalized and consequently institutionalized into the broad framework of Ayurveda.
Ajit Kr. Dvivedi, Delhi
Anuja Ghoshalkar, Mumbai
The project will chronicle the life of my grand father, who was a make up artist in the Hindi film industry from 1941 to 2000: from his early years at Raj Kamal studio with V. Shantaram (when they literally made their own make-up) to his 17 years spent at the Filmistan studio. There will be a sharper focus on the 1960’s – when he predominantly worked with Shammi Kapoor, Asha Parekh, Sadhana & Saira Banu. It will also document film history from the point of view of a technician who might lacquer it with his own stories. It is finally, a tribute to a grandfather who narrated stories of his everyday life, not knowing that stories often become history.
The research will primarily be through interviews, previously published books on the history of Indian cinema and material from magazines like Film India, Rangabhoomi, Screen, etc. The presentation will be in an audio-visual form with a written essay.
Anuja Ghosalkar is a lecturer and researcher in film and has been involved with an experimental theatre group in Mumbai for over half a decade. She is currently working with Breakthrough – a globally active human rights organization.
Ranu Ghosh, Kolkata
I have been following the transformation of a productive, half a century old Jay Engineering Works into Kolkata’s South City Project, “Eastern India’s largest mixed use real estate development”. Jay Engineering, commonly called Usha Factory, started operations manufacturing electrical consumer durables in the 1950s. The labour force of this reasonably large manufacturing unit was mostly comprised of migrants from Bihar and UP, and refugees from East Pakistan. The Works was closed down, made defunct and the land was handed over to the real estate consortium of five major real estate “magnates” in 2003. The factory buildings were demolished and the construction of the South City Projects comprising three 35-storey and one 28-storey tower, a shopping mall, school, multiplex, club etc, started from February 2004, which included the illegal filling up of one of south Calcutta’s largest natural water bodies. The workers of Jay were forced into retirement with little or no compensation and sent into limbo, except for Shambhu Prasad Singh. Shambhu has refused to opt for the meagre handouts and has instead taken his case to court. Against all odds, and withstanding the sustained pressure of the builders, he continues to live in his original quarters, surrounded and dwarfed on all sides by the construction in progress of South City. This brave stand taken by an individual is an example of how such “development” can be challenged.
Since the latter half of 2004 I have been documenting in video and still formats, the stages of development at the construction site as the work progressed and the displaced labour force, and out of that, Shambhu Prasad evolved as an outstanding example of the protest against this “development”. I began to follow his everyday life, his improvised strategies of survival in the face of difficult circumstances and his innate zeal to fight for his rights. He has transformed from a character in my film into that of a collaborator, adding a unique dimension to the project.
Ranu Ghosh has worked as a freelance camera person and director in the Indian industry for the past eight years.
Sukanya Ghosh, Kolkata
This project seeks to trace the history of Animation film design within India and to find within it a parallel history of the developing nation state. It will look at institutions such as the Doordarshan, Films Division, Lok Seva Sanchar, and The National Institute of Design, meet and interview various people associated with this history, and gather and examine archival material that is available. The nature of this research will be to record, analyse and seek out a definitive historical path for Indian animation, and to locate it within a broader perspective of social and industrial change. The research will be compiled as a visual presentation which can be used as archival material as well as something that can be presented as an exhibit or presentation independently.
Rajeev Ranjan Giri, Delhi
M.S. Harilal, Thiruvananthapuram
The study endeavors to analyze responses of the larger transformation of a traditional medical system, namely Ayurveda, to a more affirmative institutional system and a well developed market. The modern forms of Ayurveda seem to be pulled by both pharmaceutical companies and modern practitioners in a direction that flaunts cultural authenticity and tradition as well as scientific efficacy and standardization for its products. It analyses how the stakeholders in this bifurcation – traditional and modern ayurvedic manufacturing, perceive and deal with modernization, which is two fold, both in form and content. The two specific questions that the study intends to explore, based on selected case analysis and necessary ethnographic works, are: one, How do we explain the recent gains made by many firms operating in the ‘modern’ sector? Two, what are the ways in which the traditional-informal sector has coped with the processes of transformation? To the gist, we are addressing the question of agential relation in the transformation and want to contrast and compare how the two sections deal with the challenge of globalization or negotiate to find their space in the global era. Three rationales may be given for this study: one, the traditional knowledge systems are increasingly become relevant, two, there is a universal concern to addressing community ownership of traditional knowledge and third, it will help us understand the struggle and revival of similarly placed traditional industries.
M.S. Harilal is, at present, a doctoral scholar in Economics at the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram. His current areas of interests are the modernization of Indian systems of medicine, the medicinal plants sector, IPR and traditional knowledge.
Zaigham Imam, Delhi/Allahabad
Santana Issar and Aditi Saraf, Delhi
Human-animal relationships have been historically constituted in complex and intimate ways along the economic, the affective, the cultural and ritual, and the metaphoric. As these relationships have receded into an irretrievable past, it has been suggested that animals have been reconfigured in the urban imagination; as household pets, as objects of wonder in zoos and circuses, and as (Kentucky or not) fried chicken.
Our question is – does this driving of a wedge between human lives and those of animals inform dominant notions of ‘animal welfare’?
We will study the relationship between the theory of the human-animal interaction in a post-industrial urban context, and the practices of animal rescue and welfare, in order to understand how, and to what extent, each is shaped by the other. All this in the particular context of our very own urban jungle – Delhi.
Our research methodology and documentation will involve the textual as well as the visual. Research will be conducted through participant observation, interviews and questionnaires, and photographic and video documentation.
Both Santana and Aditi are graduates of St Stephen’s College. Santana is a filmmaker, Aditi works as a research associate at the National Knowledge Commission.
Vivek Kumar Jain, Delhi
Deepak Kadyan, Delhi
This research seeks to examine the relationship between popular musical traditions and the forging of a jat identity in north India in general and in Haryana in particular. The processes of identity formation and self-perceived notions of community will be analyzed and discerned through the prism of popular culture and as to how a ‘community’ viewed itself, and what its aspirations have been over a period of time.
An important aspect of this study would be an analysis of the sites of performance and circulation of this oral tradition. One such site is the akharas (lit. a wrestling arena, but here, it refers to a space for rehearsals and practice), influential until the mid twentieth century. Another such site available to oral tradition for circulation was the colonial army and police. The history of oral tradition is intertwined with the history of prominent performers, and major structural and performative changes, whether in terms of musical instruments, rhythms, intonation, appropriation of symbols or content— in other words, the relationship between performers and performance. Interestingly, the social composition of oral tradition in Haryana is different, as it wasn’t dominated by any particular community.
This study seeks to use a variety of sources ranging from archival material to oral traditions and personal interviews. This study intends to make use of all the documented oral tradition in the form of text and cassettes as well. A process of documentation of Sufi tradition, which is so strong in this region will be initiated. Amongst other textual sources, diaries, personal letters, memoirs and compositions of prominent political leaders like Chotu Ram, Chajju Ram and others merit analysis. This study also seeks to use the letters received from Pakistani soldiers kept at All India Radio, and a personal collection of correspondence between people who left Haryana and were constantly interacting through letters.
Ram Ganesh Kamatham, Bangalore
This research seeks to create a play script which is a modern retelling of the folktale of Vikram and Vetal. The main thrust of the research will seek to create a critical mass of information pertaining to the stories that will be exploited for dramaturgical ends, with a view to re-contextualising the stories within a modern urban space. It will involve gathering material that will eventually inform the creation of the play script – including comic books, photographs, clippings and a travelogue. The dramaturgical concept of polyvocality will permeate the research as well as drive the creative process that will frame the material dramatically.
Ram Ganesh Kamatham is a professional writer based in Bangalore. He has created work for stage, film, radio, and video games.
Shahnawaz Khan, Srinagar
This study aims to analyse the impact of the closure of cinema halls in Srinagar after the outbreak of armed insurgency in early nineties. Most of the closed cinema halls are occupied by paramilitary troopers and have even functioned as torture centres in the nineties. Some others have changed business. Only one is functional, but not in good condition.
I will be talking to people associated with the trade, cine goers who have been to these halls when they functioned, and the youth today who do not find a place to go for a movie in the city. The study will also look at the psychological impact of these structures in the city, which stand witness to the times they have gone through.
Shahnawaz Khan is a journalist based in Srinagar, associated with the US based Free Speech Radio News. Along with some friends he launched Kashmirnewz.com in 2006.
Arvind Kumar, Delhi
The proposed study intends to analyse the Worli riots of 1974 when there was a violent clash between the Shiv Sena and the Dalit Panthers. In this riot the main target of communal wrath were dalits who opted out of the oppressive caste-hindu religion and converted to Neo-Buddhism. The riots and the agitation brought to the surface dissensions within the Dalit Panther movement, which ultimately led to its split in 1974.
There are enough sources available on Dalit Panther movement. The consciousness of revolt was also expressed in an outburst of poetry by new writers like Namdev Dhasal, Daya Powar, J V Pawar, Waman Nimbalkar, Arun Kamble and many others. The present study will locate the Worli riots in a historical perspective and will try and address new questions as and when they arise through the course of the study. Content analysis as a technique would be adopted whereby making inferences by systematically and objectively identifying specified characteristics of texts will be followed. The researcher would conduct interviews with the survivors of the riots and would record and transcribe them. Apart from this, internet sites would be scoured for photographs and assorted material.
Arvind Kumar is pursuing a PhD in American Studies at the School of International Studies, JNU on the topic ‘Discrimination and Resistance – A Comparative Study of Black Movements in the U.S and Dalit Movements in India’.
Ramesh Kumar, Delhi
My research would attempt to understand the dynamics of the film viewing experience offered by three different cinema halls belonging to the A, B and C segment each in the city of Delhi. Basing itself on the premise that our film viewing experience is greatly altered by the viewing conditions and other facilities offered by the screening space and its surroundings, the research would seek to understand what marks such difference between the three cinema halls. Through a series of interviews, empirical observation and photo documentation, I would investigate the unique spatial experience offered by each site, study the various facilities offered by them, compare the nature of films screened and the technology used in each hall, examine other mechanisms employed to offer the audience “a novel movie experience” and study the different promotional materials used by each cinema hall. In a final report/ academic paper, I would summarize these empirical findings and locate them in the larger field of cultural production and circulation amidst the heterogeneity of the city space.
Ramesh Kumar is currently enrolled for an MPhil in Film Studies from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU.
Gyaltsen Lama, Gangtok, Sikkim
A four part graphic novel exploring the lives of four different shamans in Gangtok, Sikkim. 20 pages of each part with black and white illustrations. Each part is approached with different illustration and narrative styles.
This is more of an intimate/personal approach. The shaman, who is a housewife, is interviewed randomly over a period of time. The illustration is realistic. Story line consists of her history, views, aspirations and experiences.
This has a humorous approach story wise so the illustration is more free flowing and very much satirical. This is a shaman who has more misses than hits. This narrative will be interviews with the people who interact with him on a daily basis, their opinion of him.
This has an experimental approach illustration wise. This deals with more of the shamanistic rituals where the shaman describes them. A collage of illustrations and photographs with non linear inter panel flow.
This is a background research of a shaman who is from a remote part of Sikkim and now resides in Gangtok city. This research includes visiting the village of the shaman and interviewing the village people and getting a better understanding of where the shaman comes from and how he is coping with the city.
Gyaltsen Lama: I received my bachelor of fine arts degree (year 2000) from Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai. I am currently the fine art teacher at Tashi Namgyal Academy, Gangtok. I am working on an art installation; one part of it is a 13 ft sculpture in concrete. The project is in its final stages. I am also a tattoo artist and have been working on tattoos for the last 7 years. I also have a passion for cel animation.
Madhura Lokohare, Pune
The aim of the study is to explore the role played by notice boards (popularly known as vartaphalak) in formation and articulation of identity in four areas of Pune city, viz. Sadashiv Peth, Narayan Peth, Guruwar Peth and Ghorpade Peth. The study tries to investigate how local, communal and regional identity is constructed and consolidated through these spaces, by looking at the visual organization of these spaces and content and rhetoric used in the notice boards. It also aims at understanding the profile of population whom these spaces are aimed at as well as community perceptions towards these spaces. Whether the spaces reflect a gender-based and caste-based differences would be another point of exploration. Fieldwork would be done through three qualitative methods: photo documentation, interviews and FGDs, and non-participant observation. These methods would focus on specific themes outlined in the objectives.
The outcome of the study would be in the form of a photo-essay comprising of maximum 35 photographs, covering the above issues and an essay exploring these issues based upon fieldwork as well as a brief review of literature in the area of public spaces and visual culture.
Madhura Lokhare is currently working as a Research Co-ordinator in a mental health research, services and advocacy organization, Bapu Trust, Pune; there she is working on a research project exploring the role of indigenous healing practices in mental health.
Nalin Mathur, Delhi
Being subjected with the experience of studying at an engineering college, I happened to witness the living experiences, aspirations and values that make an ‘engineer’ beyond all the techy stuff he learns in the classroom. Add to it the different background and identity of students and the acute realization that “This – is- not – IIT”, which more often then not looms large in everyone’s conscience. Hence, engineering colleges constitute of interesting and fantastical cultural dynamics wherein a mix of identities, cultures and aspirations are played out in non-metropolitan spaces to get an amalgamation of different worlds in one campus. Through this project I aim to study the phase of social and emotional renaissance which unavoidably crops up during one’s stay away from his natural locale.
The end-product of the research will be in form of a series of essays with illustrations and will cover the following:
1. An ethnographic description of B Grade Engineering college culture and student experience.
2. Mapping out the changing dynamics of this space along with that of its physical location and how the latter contributes to receives and experiences this culture.
3. Hypothetical possibilities of how these might affect the physical and cultural space.
4. How these aspects affect one’s politics, conscience, personhood.
5. How these experiences influence and form the outlook towards the world at large or view points nurtured here during the four years of a students stay.
The research methodology shall be qualitative and informal in nature. It will include:
– Participant Observation
I am Nalin Narain Mathur, working as an Analyst – Systems, with HCL Technologies – Remote Infrastructure Division and have a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Uttar Pradesh Technical University, Lucknow.
Meena Menon, Mumbai
Is Mumbai the unbreakable city it is touted to be? As a city, it has changed in obvious and not so obvious ways since the post Babri Masjid demolition riots of December 1992 and January 1993. The main focus of the research will be the families of the riot victims and their lives after more than a decade since the violence.
The high profile trial of the 1993 serial blasts case has come to an end and the verdict is being handed out while the Srikrishna commission, which did a detailed report on the riots, has been shelved. The riots clearly intensified the divide between two communities and created a process of further ghettoisation. Many people went to live in extended suburbs and even outside the cities, creating extruded ghettos. The scars over the years have created deeper divisions and tracing the complexities involved may allow some truths to emerge.
The research method will be based on interviews first hand visits to places and talking to as wide a spectrum of people as possible — including researchers, journalists, riot affected families, government, police officials, apart from political parties. At the end of the research I would like to use the material for a book.
Meena Menon: At the moment I am special correspondent with The Hindu. I have been a journalist for 22 years and have worked with The Times of India, Mid-day and the United of News of India.
Yateendra Mishra, Allahabad
Sayandeb Mukherjee, Hyderabad
This project delves into the emotional and acoustic contours of corridors. This contemporary architectural design which may appear simple structurally possesses a complicated and sometimes convoluted auditory space due to reflective and diffractive properties of sound. The project attempts to enlighten the variability of these acoustic qualities/characterestics of corridors integrated in different urban spaces like – hospitals, prisons, libraries, educational institution, courts and many other public spaces which are vibrant in terms of psycho-acoustics. The research would also borrow references from ancient mythological texts, films, paintings and literature to discern the mystic and seemingly improbable destination of corridors and like spaces.
The process of research includes a vivid physical involvement and exploration in the corridor like spaces, taking notes in a descriptive way in the spot itself, acquiring photographs and live recordings of the acoustic environments at different spots of the same space. The recording process may also involve time stamps (i.e. recordings of the same space over the different parts of a day) for the analysis of the soundscape in a particular space. The process also includes the collection of films, texts or any other form of art, where one can notice a conscious application of such corridor-like spaces.
Sayandeb Mukherjee is a graduate of the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata who now works as a professional sound recordist in Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad.
Shubhra Nagalia, Allahabad
The proposed research will investigate the reportage of Mau riots by electronic and print media. While there has been extensive documentation and studies on the ‘communalisation’ of media and its role in riot situations, the small town manifestation of this phenomenon in Mau and its resultant repercussions on hegemonic discourses and construction of religious identity will be one of the areas of our study. The images, slogans, language and presentation of Mau riots through the lens of Hindi media; linkages between political influences, capital and communities that shapes the contours of media in general and local news in particular will also be subjects of our research. Mau also has had a history of intermittent riots which have shaped the economy and contours of trade, in particular of the weaving sector. Studying this history and its linkages with the changing fortunes and balance of power of different communities before, after and during the riots will also be an aspect of this research.
Another significant aspect of Mau riots is the pre-riot history of mutual ‘pacts’ between both Hindus and Muslims on usage of town space. The changing landscape has participatory histories and is an important register of change and manipulations.
Shubhra Nagalia is based in Allahabad and is currently finishing her final year of M.A. (Political Science) from Allahabad University. She has done M.Phil in Russian from JNU and Women’s Studies from Sri Lanka.
Sugata Nandi, Kolkata
The first twenty years after Independence and Partition was an extremely eventful phase in the urban history of Calcutta. At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947 the city lost its status of Second City of the British Empire and turned into a third world metropolis seeking a new identity being overburdened with problems of overpopulation, refugee influx, steady economic decline and political upheavals. Two decades later Calcutta witnessed the beginning of Non Congress rule by an coalition of Bangla Congress, a regional political outfit constituted by a break away Congress clique and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Between these two moments a vast number of events had given Calcutta the new character that it retains till this day. This study will take up fifteen landmark events of the 1947-67 period that will include among others the turbulence of the Food Movement, the hardships caused by the rice crisis of the 1950s and the ‘60s, the growing radicalization manifest in the general strikes of the period, the beginning of the Naxal Movement in the mid sixties as well as the short-lived instances of celebration like the visit by foreign dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth and the Soviet statesmen Nikita Khrushchev and Bulganin.
Personal reminisces of the adolescents and youths of the 1950s and 1960s, of the incidents listed above will be gathered through interviews with them. The oral data thus gathered will constitute the primary source for constructing a collage of remembered experiences. The project will treat the same as texts authored by individuals who endeavour to locate and to interpret through the emotional performance of remembering what may be termed as significant episodes in the recent history of the city.
The project, on completion of research, will be given the shape of a academic history paper. At the moment I have fixed the target of writing the paper in about 15 thousand words, which might have to be increased if required. As of now I have planned to record (in audio cassettes) the interviews that will constitute the archival text for the work, if resources permit then I would try to make audio-visual record of the interviews.
Sugata Nandi is Lecturer in History, Krishnagar Government College, West Bengal.
Gauri Paliwal, Indirapuram
Bipul Pande, Delhi
Vijay Kumar Pandey, Meerut
The publication industry of Meerut is almost 200 years old. During this period the industry has evolved with time and flourished. The present turnover of the industry is nearly Rs. 200 crore per annum and provides employment to approximately one lakh people.
The study aims at identifying the factors contributing to the rapid growth and evolution of this industry in Meerut during past 200 years as well as the problems and challenges before it. It will also look into how the industry has changed with time.
Research methodology will include interaction with the people associated with the industry. It will also include interviews as well as exploration of old records and manuscripts. The end product will be an academic research paper including photographs & other documents.
Vijay Kumar Pandey: I would like to introduce myself as a journalist with more than four years of experience. I have worked with SAHARA SAMAY (Hindi weekly) & am at present working with Dainik Jagran Meerut as a sub editor.
Zubin Pastakia, Mumbai
The project seeks to photographically examine the cultural experience of different types of cinema halls in Bombay city.
In part, this is a meditation on different urban spaces. The photographs will illuminate the inherent sign language of the architecture, posters and signage, hall seats, film reels, tickets, toilets, snack counters, workers’ uniforms, patron’s clothing, gender break-up etc. of these spaces.
More importantly, this is an attempt to illustrate the subjective nature of the film-going experience. From the designer shop – to cinema hall – to chain restaurant mall/multiplex experience, to the still-standing single-screen bastions of the art-deco era, to the musty largely male-dominated “c-grade” halls, the photographs will evoke the unique experience of these different spaces.
By examining these spaces photographically, the project aims to provide a rich and detailed socio-visual context to the ever-changing urban cinematic experience — thus situating film texts within various cultural spaces. The intention is to eventually produce a monograph on Bombay’s cinema halls as well as to exhibit the photographs publicly.
Zubin Pastakia is a photographer and filmmaker living in Bombay.
Gopaljee Pradhan, Silchar, Assam
Alok Puranik, Delhi
Mohit Kumar Ray and Soma Ghosh, Kolkata
Kolkata is a city of ponds. Job Charnok, the first well-known British merchant, set up his office by the side of a pond called Lal Dighi, which still exists to remind of this city’s colonial past. There are many ponds like this with rich historical linkages. Many streets and places of Kolkata are named after ponds. Even after the onslaught of the real estate sector, the city has more than 3500 ponds. The significance of these urban waterbodies as water resources is being appreciated now as never before. These ponds form a part of the cultural history of the city. Once, it was the place where community people met during bathing; Bengali literature has so many narratives about the ghats of these ponds. The fields by the side of some ponds provide space to hold fairs. However, there is still no proper documentation of such an important city heritage. This study will add to the urban cultural history where the city ponds are not mere past heroes, but active agents of a thriving present. The study will be carried out through field study, oral history and secondary sources. It will produce a report on the history of heritage ponds with photos of the ponds and interviews.
Mohit Ray, the principal researcher, is an environmental professional who has a PhD in Chemical Engineering and works for environmental rights.
This proposal is about a Dalit woman married to a Backward Caste man and their struggle to move above caste and gender structures in a moffusil town in Keralam.
The story begins when the couple buys an autorickshaw in Chithra Lekha’s name and she decides to drive it herself. However, Chithra Lekha’s caste and gender identity makes it impossible for her to step into the public sphere of this liberated moffusil town. The leftist trade union (mainly consisting of a dominant BC caste) already angered by her caste violation of marrying above her caste, acts against her by delaying her membership card and continues to harass her till at last her autorickshaw is burned to ashes.
In this project we propose to collect and document each and every aspect of this (true) incident by conducting thorough interviews with all the people concerned. Along with this we would also like to produce a theoretical paper which tries to understand how caste, class, gender relations constitute the urban space in Keralam. Here we would examine:
– how the dominant Marxist party works to reproduce the caste and gender structure in Keralam
– the important tools of sexual morality which are used against the progress of Dalit and “other” women;
– the intricacies of the OBC-Dalit relationship and the reasons that triggers violence between them
– the role of subaltern masculinities in the entire incident.
Carmel Christy is at present doing her PhD in Media and Commmunications from the Central University of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradhesh.
Jenny Rowena P already has a PhD on Malayalam Cinema, from the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
Inder Salim, Delhi
Maha Performance: a big festival of performance art. But before this dream festival takes shape, I aim to collect the moods of aspiring performance artists in India. Knowing this genre is new, (in contemporary sense) and not market friendly, the challenges are immense. As we know, the mould of an artist in the present is already contemporary, and is hardly unaffected by the issues around. So the task is to approach the young from the art colleges, colleges, universities, NSD and other such non conventional arenas. My role is to identify a potential performance artist and try to do a performance independently along with her/him, or collaborate. I aim to provide a documented file to the participant in the least. I need to enter the marked and unmarked spaces/venues for a good start. I aim to arrange to invite an internationally famous artist to create an ambience for the popularity of this genre. There are already few of us in Delhi and elsewhere who I am sure would support the cause.
About the theory of performance art and its significance, I quickly quote Leslie Hill, a noted feminist writer- who begins her essay on performance art, by saying ” The genesis of Performance Art is Feminism,”. So more than that, I believe, it has a history of politics of defiance and is loaded with history of minds that yearned for a new thinking for a new possible world, besides a floating signifier of a queer/heretic/eccentric/poetic within the form of it.
Inder Salim is a performance artist based in Delhi.
Abhik Samanta, Kolkata
The notion of visual art here is indicative of pictographic representation which includes line drawings, watercolour or oil paintings or lithographs. These images can be found in all tracts published by the Gita press as also in the monthly Kalyan and the poster publications. The gamut of these illustrations can be seen as the harbinger of a particular style among other publications of the extensive calendar art industry. The delineation of a style thus constitutes a broad frame in which the work is conceived. However the primary aim is to explore the constitution of this style. Its constitution implies the way in which meanings of these images are conveyed in course of their location in the discursive textual printing done, in the yet emergent language of the nation, Hindi.
These images are characterized by the influence of Hanumanprasad Poddar who was one of the two founders and the leading light of the Gita Press Gorakhpur. Hanumanprasad became involved with the discursive mission of the Press owing to a divine vision in which God appeared before him and instructed him to propagate belief in God which had to be expressed through practices like the utterance of God’s name. He saw Him in a series of graphic visions that he had throughout his life and instructed painters to depict accordingly. In the proposed work the national paradigm of ideal existence as embodied in the discursive writings of Hanumanprasad is sought to be understood in juxtaposition between text and image. The renunciating body of the reader as described by the creed of ‘action without desire’ is sought to be reconciled to the apparently contrasting, voluptuous or highly muscular body that occurs in the visual depiction.
Abhik Samanta is currently doing independent research on middle class lifestyle and ethics, and is interested in doing future research on medieval ethical economies.
Surojit Sen, Chandannagar, Hooghly
The meta-narrative of the 19th century social history conceals many tales of dispossession and displacement of the marginalized, sometimes with the active agency of the colonial power. One such incident that deserves attention is the exodus of prostitutes from Calcutta to Chandannagar.
To go beneath the meta-narrative means that we have to look for new subtexts mostly obscure and now relegated to oblivion. One such forgotten text is Bodmaish Jobdo or Wicked Punished by Prankrishna Dutta. The text is full of authentic details about the trade which flourished along Chitpur Road, which, interestingly, enough not far from the seat Bengali Renaissance. The sprawling. quarters were known as the Sonagachi area extending from Nutanbazar to Fauzdari Balakhana (criminal court ) . The present day crossing of Chitpur Road and Kolutolla marked the lower extreme of the red light area. Another skit writer Hootom (literally the barn owl) provides us with more information related to the area, the prostitutes, pimps and their clients.
The story of the dispossession of the marginalized continues in different form and with a different rationale in Chandannagar in the post colonial period. Ironically here again we find the repetition of the health regime of 1868, though this time in the name of ‘moral garb’!
My project will explore the following:
A. Impact of Contagious Disease Act 14 on society (both Calcutta and Chandannagar) and contemporary literature at that time.
B. Outline history of brothels in Chandannagar and Calcutta( Sonagachi)
C. Proposed law on prostitution by Ministry of Women and Child Welfare of government of India and its probable implications as they reflect state regimentation.
I will do still-photo documentation of the specific locations at Chandannagar in its current state, which used to be brothels before mid eighties of twentieth century.
I will also document (photograph) Chitpur Road, from Nutanbazar to Kolutolla – Chitpur crossing (the red-light area stretched upto this point in 1868).
I will translate the text, Bodmaish Jobdo from Bengali to English.
Surojit Sen does research for documentary films, writes script for telefilms ( Bengali ), reviews books ( Bengali ), renders editorial service ( Bengali ), writes short prose on literature ( Bengali )and is now working on his first novel named CITY EDITION (Bengali).
Yoginder Sikand and Naseemur Rahman, Delhi
This research project focuses on the Muslim publishing industry in Delhi. It examines various aspects of this industry, including content of publications and linkages between authors, publishers and consumers of the literature produced by these publishing houses. It also looks at how the Muslim publishing industry is responding to the various challenges that Muslims in India today see themselves faced with.
The research project will involve interviews with authors and publishers and content analysis of the publications through a survey of catalogues of a representative sample of Muslim publishing houses located in Delhi.
The end product of the research project will be a series of articles and interviews, which will be sent to various newspapers and magazines, as well as an academic research paper.
The research project is being conducted by two people: Naseem ur Rahman, a Ph.D. student at the Jamia Millia Islamia and presently working with the Markazi Maktaba Islami, a leading Muslim publishing house in Delhi; and Yoginder Sikand, Professor at the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Surya Prakash Upadhyay, Mumbai
The project proposes to look at the instrumentality of audio-visual media in the construction and maintenance of the religio-spiritual world in contemporary Hinduism and in the mobilization of people towards “tele-gurus”. The project attempts to look into a recent and interesting addition in the religious sphere, especially in present-day Hinduism, catered to the people by cable television in the urban spaces. It looks at a new-age guru named Asharam Bapu, and at the phenomenon of media playing a vital part in the growth of his organization, in increasing the numbers of followers and devotees, and in propagation as well as spread of religiosity and spirituality among people. There are several gurus and also several devotional channels that are highly influential in urban spaces, transmitting their programmes through television and providing an opportunity for people to listen and watch their favorite guru. It is a matter of great interest and investigation to find out the relationship between religion and media and consequently, its various implications for society.
The media ecology, through its various inputs, compositely works for their organizational development. Audio-visual aids such as audio cassettes, MP3, VCDs, DVDs, websites play a major role, but print media also plays a lasting role in such religious mobilization processes. However, if audio aids help in making a long distance contact and visual aids help in transcendence of physicality and facilitate darsan of these gurus before their followers, it is print media that, through booklets and printed material, helps in internalizing the subjects. The visualization of gurus on television gives a sense of attachment and shortens the spatial distance between the guru and his devotee. On the one hand, the televised transmission of religious and spiritual discourses gives a feeling of personal advice and guidance to the devotee (when watching alone); on the other hand when the same thing occurs at the ashram or at some congregation it gives a feeling of group lecture and sense of live sermon in a congregation. This development in the media sector has filled the gap of physical absence of guru and communication between him and his followers.
The aim of the research is to give a ‘thick description’ of the whole phenomenon. The proposed research is a qualitative and interpretative. The methods that would be applied to collect data will be interviews with the devotees of the guru. Also a questionnaire will be executed to collect more and varied information. The literature, printed and electronic both, will be analyzed following the content analysis method. Also, focused group discussion would be performed through participation in satsangs and other meetings of the group. A few interviews of the cable networks will also be performed.
Surya Prakash Upadhyay: I am a Research Scholar in Dept of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. I am planning to develop a documentary of the work but I need some guidance and also sufficient amount of money to carry out the task.
Shiju Sam Varughese, Delhi
The proposed study attempts to understand the functioning of the public sphere, constituted through the regional press in Keralam, as a site of knowledge production in the context of scientific controversies. This will be studied by taking a specific scientific controversy as case. In the wake of an earthquake on 12th December 2000, several unusual geophysical incidents including well collapses, coloured rains and micro tremors began appearing in Keralam. These phenomena have been reported in the regional press from every nook and cranny of the region and the deliberations over it continued for almost one year in the regional press, involving a wide range of issues and actors. This case will be studied in detail based on content analysis of five major Malayalam newspapers (Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, Deshabhimani, Madhyamam, and Keralam Kaumudi) as well as interviews with key actors involved in the controversy. This is to demonstrate how the public sphere acts as a site of knowledge production in the context of a scientific controversy.
Shiju Sam Varughese is a doctoral candidate at the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. My research is on public understanding of science in Keralam.
T. Venkat, Chennai
My project proposes to study the lives of migrant workers on Chennai’s ‘IT corridor’. The project will be a multi-media exploration of the living and working conditions, the past histories and the dreams of migrant workers and their families who are building the grandiose infrastructure project in the southern suburb of Chennai.
The construction activity on the IT corridor which is a 45 km long, six-lane express highway and with numerous, residential, commercial and industrial complexes coming up along side has brought flows of construction workers from Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. This project then, aims to explore and depict the work conditions as well as the hopes and dreams that underpin the building of the large new infrastructure projects that are the fantasies of resurgent modern India. It will use ethnographic methods and video documentation to elicit and depict the narratives, oral histories and future aspirations of workers in this labor camp, juxtaposed against their living conditions as well as against the backdrop of the glamorous corridor they are here to build.
This project will be collaborative in nature and includes a trade union organizer, an activist involved in occupational health issues among industrial workers, a filmmaker, an academic specializing in urban anthropology and myself. We propose to focus on one such camp which houses about 5000 families in Chemencheri, a village on the IT corridor. The final presentation would be an audio visual presentation of the material collected in the event the documentary is not complete by then.
T. Venkat: I am currently engaged in an ethnographic study of collective action in Chennai, through which I am gaining valuable experience in ethnographic methods and documentation.
Chitra Venkataramani, Mumbai
The fellowship project will look at the way the notion of cleanliness and order operates in the city. In our urban environment, the ideas of disease, personal space, and proximity are changing the way we construct and view our environment. The project will look at these ideas through certain forms in the city such as the transport system where many people travel in a tightly packed condition, the new semi-private gardens where people queue to enter, the naala that cuts across varied landscapes and the slum rehabilitation schemes. These stories will look at our fear of touch and disease, of who inhabits these gardens and how characters within these stories see and draw maps of the city.
These are told as stories that connect these forms together. Each story may have a different structure; for example while stories in the trains are collected from personal narratives, the naala cuts through the city in a series of episodic drawings that allow the reader to start at any page in parts of the book.
Shafia Wani, Srinagar
The central theme of the research is to elaborate the presence of new spaces and initiatives that women in contemporary Kashmir are engaging with. These range from initiatives that are social /civil or just individual/personal. Furthermore to elaborate the productive possibility that these engagements engender for women and the kind of agency that is created in the process. This kind of elaboration will be explored within the historico cultural ethos of Kashmir which has within its history engendered the creative expression of women. This has over centuries, enabled a space of renegotiation and a creative, productive agency that is culturally recognized.
The method that will be mainly relied upon for purpose of research will be in-depth and over-time interviews with the main actors of the proposed inquiry. In addition certain useful, common narratives will also be collected from the peripheral areas of the field of inquiry.
The proposed end product will be in the form of an academic research paper.
Shafia Wani is a development professional and is currently associated with Save the Children UK, an international developmental organization that works for the rights of children worldwide.
Ranjan Yumnam, Imphal
The study seeks to trace the transformation of the slow celluloid world of Manipur film industry into a fast-paced, almost assembly-line, center of digital film production. From pre-production planning to exhibition, today, the entire cycle of film production in Manipur rolls in the digital mode, making celluloid history. Probably the first state to achieve this feat, it is debatable whether the medium has co-opted the Manipuri filmmakers, or whether circumstances unique to the trouble-torn state have made the Imphalwood’s dream merchants embrace the digital technology. The industry, however, has been growing phenomenally after the valley-based insurgents banned Hindi films and satellite channels in the state since 2000. It is in this context that the political-economy, demographics and geography of Manipur need to be understood.
Extensive interviews with Manipur film fraternity and insurgents (if possible) will form the main basis of the research, supplemented by survey methods. The study will culminate in a series of essays, a PowerPoint presentation, pictures, posters and video clips of archival value.
Ranjan Yumnam, formerly a correspondent of the Times of India in New Delhi, is an Imphal-based freelance journalist.
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