MG University Assistants on Board.
I am now in Kerala, doing project pre-prep work. It’s rainy season (Malayalam month of Mithunam) and after a slow and late start, rain is indeed now falling.
On arrival, I had a fruitful time visiting MG University, Kottayam, School of Social Sciences. SOAS London has a longstanding collaboration with the school and I’ve visited a few times now. Prof Sanal Mohan, who also visits UK often for work, and is an old friend at SOAS, London, had invited me to speak with and meet with members of staff and students from the University. We decided to make the talk topic something about fieldwork methods and dilemmas. I spoke for 30 minutes or so and then we had a very lively discussion about the tension between formal interviewing and more informal and ongoing participant observation, and we thought together about the importance in our research work of paying attention to phenomenologies and embodiment. I also talked a bit about positionality and what it means to do research in a postcolonial context. I was challenged and pushed on several points and – I hope – gave back decent responses. It’s great to feel part, even in a small way, of such an engaged and dynamic academic community.
That main news item here however is that two research assistants are now on the project prep work in India: Nikhil Mathew and Anupama Thampi. The assistants are both advanced postgrads at MG Kottayam Soc Sci. We met last week and chatted about the REALM project and agreed to do some work together.
Anupama has BA plus MA and in 2016 finished her MPhil in Development Studies, conducted in MG University, Kottayam. Her MPhil thesis, which I enjoyed reading last week, is titled: The Rear Vision of Migration: Overseas Experience of Dalit Christians in Kerala. We rarely hear about Dalit experiences of Gulf and I am hoping that in our collaboration, both Anupama and I will learn some more about this specific aspect of the migrant experience.
Nikhil Mathew has BA and an M.A. in Social Anthropology and Sociology which was taken from the Central European University, Budapest, and and Integrated Masters in Sociology, University of Hyderabad, India. His areas of interest are: Urban Studies, Ethnography, and Rural Sociology.