DISPATCHES FROM THE FIELD

15 June 2021

Theatre of the Moving Markets: inside the Mumbai Local

Aditi Aggarwal

In this text, I use the medium of a theater scene to frame my field notes to showcase the appearing and disappearing of moving train vendor markets. Once the main actors enter the stage of performance, the ladies compartment, they begin to play out roles of the shrewd seller, the old and known friend, the aggressive bargainer, and the observing researcher. Each move feels learned and rehearsed and yet needs improvisation during each performance. Conversations between vendors and customers unfold as if on cue, each playing off the dialogic moves made by the other. This is not to indicate that vendors and customers are engaging in a ruse or putting up a facade. These scripts and their rehearsed anger and playfulness are part of learning to participate in the life of a ladies’ compartment and sustain its social and economic rhythms… 


10 June 2021

Two Arms: an excerpt from “Made by Sea and Wood, In Darkness”

Alexandros Plasatis

Made by Sea and Wood, in Darkness takes place in and around a 24/7 harbourside café in a Greek town. It tells the story of the Egyptian immigrants who work as fishermen on the trawlers and other outcasts who hang around the café and the harbour. Each chapter is a stand-alone short story and each story is a step further into the darkness and light of a novel where the Egyptian fishermen, the beggars, the café’s servers, the prostitutes and the spat-upon homosexuals become the grotty heroes of the everyday.

The book is based on ethnographic work that took place nearly twenty years ago, while I was an undergraduate student in Social Anthropology, but also a waiter and barista in the harbour-side café where Egyptian fishermen liked to gather and spend their spare time.

Find below an excerpt from the book. This excerpt is from the section titled “Two Arms”.


19 May 2021

Midnight Conversations: ethnographic poetry from Kashmir

Ruhail Andrabi

This poem is 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.


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