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Brown Bag Forum Presents Puzzle(d) on Field: Narratives of Single Mothers & Female Waste-pickers on Work During Crisis in Delhi

flyer image of speaker bio and abstract
Date and Time: 
Monday, March 8, 2021 - 12:30 to 13:30

Department of Anthropology

This conversation explores the epistemic tensions emerging from COVID 19 on research methodologies in the discipline of anthropology. It aims to bring to light the grave challenges in the “knowing” and “doing” of
an ethnographic study of ‘work during crises’. Very closely documenting a range of events from the National Capital Region of India, the paper locates the junctures where the object of study, the lens of inquiry, ethics of
data collection, the role of participants, and the researcher all collapse and give shape to newer interpretations of socialities at a field site. Through narratives from some of the most vulnerable communities working during the pandemic in Delhi, the attempt is to find whether there is scope in anthropology to find unique positions to understand the multifarious shades of meaning that ‘crises’ can take on field. This presentation has been extrapolated from a chapter in the doctoral thesis on civil society efforts in organising relief efforts during mounting crises in the capital. It unravels the journey(s) of single mothers and female waste pickers from the time of political violence in the city from the protests against CAA-NRC to the Northeast Delhi outbreak of horrifying violence, all the way till the COVID pandemic. It attempts to synthesize the various ways in which ‘work during crises’ is understood and how these subjectivities impact our approaches and designs to the fieldwork in anthropology.
Syeda Asia is currently a research scholar at the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics. Her research areas are in the field of organisational sociology, economic anthropology, education, entrepreneurship and livelihood. She has worked for education policy implementation as a Gandhi Fellow in rural India following which she has been collaborating with Rishi Valley Institute for Educational Resources – Krishnamurti Foundation India for their faculty enrichment programmes. Asia is the founding member of LEARN, an initiative in life skills education and entrepreneurship development in India. She is currently the director of grassroots strategy at AeSha Foundation, which works with single mothers, women waste pickers, women urban farmers and rural women entrepreneurs towards rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of major political, environmental, economic and social crises.