DISPATCHES FROM THE FIELD

We feature long form essays that make use of ethnographic fieldwork as well as standalone field notes that tell a powerful story.

Field Notes.

Ethnographic Reflections.


11 February 2021

(No) Place of Work

Saumya Pandey and Pooja George

What would we do if we experienced harassment in our workplace, but others didn’t see it happening? We know from history that this happens. We also know about it because as women at some point it has happened to us. By asking nine early-career women from different walks of life, including ourselves, we examine what abuse in the workplace is like, particularly when it is too subtle to be noticed, deeply gendered, and socially embedded as normal in the work culture…


3 February 2021

A Place at the Table

Nicholas Bascuñan-Wiley

As researchers, we often ask a lot of those who participate in our studies without offering much in return. We ask participants to let us into their spaces, to tell us about their histories and realities, and to take time away from their busy lives to do so. Many of the people that I met during my interviews broke down the social distances between us through acts of hospitality—inviting me to eat, showing me around their restaurant, or offering me something to drink. Conversations were often facilitated by black tea or thick Turkish coffee. On one memorable occasion, a restaurant owner brought out some complimentary Arak, an anise-based liquor, as an after-dinner top off as we conversed…


13 January 2021

“Country” and “Colonialism”: ethnographic poetry from Kashmir

Ruhail Andrabi

These poems are set in the context of Kashmir which is a disputed territory occupied by India. The author-poet demonstrates through his ethnographic poetry how normal life looks under the gaze of settler colonial occupation through which the indigenous people are rendered homeless and their identity reduced to the rubble of coloniality. The metaphors in the poems take a reader through the cities of colonialism, occupation and indigeneity…


08 January 2021

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing: a note on Uber drivers in New Delhi

Krishna Akhil Kumar Adavi

A towel on their own seat, an old water bottle – always with the original brand sticker peeled off – and a notebook for their manual tallying of rides are the drivers’ companions through the day. If other Indian vehicles have a Ganapati [a prominent Hindu God, often worshipped for an auspicious start and good luck] double-taped onto their dashboard to pray to, these drivers seem to worship the source of their bread and butter: their always charging phones. Car honks, barking dogs, irritated parking attendants, and the YouTube videos they watch on their second phone fade into the background through the constant interruptions of a notification on their main phone: ‘New Ride. Click to Accept’…


22 December 2020

“Playing my part”: navigating racial histories in the field

Cayce Hughes

My initial reaction to Dee’s request was trepidation and a fair bit of dread. Public speaking always makes me nervous, but I’ve grown accustomed to the format of presenting at academic conferences and in classrooms. Churches, not so much. But I agreed, partly because it was an opportunity to share my research with community members, and partly out of a sense of obligation to Dee, who had become an invaluable resource to me and my work…


7 December 2020

Populism as Witchcraft

Marco Garrido

In my green years after graduating college, I interned at several development NGOs in the Philippines mainly doing research on agrarian reform. In the course of this work, I lived for two months with a community of landless farmers in the province of Bulacan north of Manila. It was here that I encountered an exorcism. Cora was showing me around the village when we came upon a small crowd of people gathered around a young woman. She was seated on a chair, her body leaning forward, her face twisted into a grimace. She appeared to be growling under her breath. The older man seated beside her was busy arranging several vials on a table. He was the mangkukulam or witch doctor…

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