Sunday, February 04, 2007

...aur zindagi chal rahi hai

(oh bla dee oh bla da, life goes on!)

well. I made it! I officially survived qualifying exams. I got a phd pass with one rewrite! WOW! I was so shocked reading it I could not believe it. I was so prepared to get a masters pass. No one seemed to feel I was capable! But hey, I did it. I am so excited. I have so many ideas for my research, and I applied for the academic year Hindi program... hopefully, I can do all that, finish my classes and do the research.

For my research, I want to write an ethnography. I want it to be a mixture of "academic" research AND applied research, bucking the norms of anthropology. The concept of academic vs. professional can be a theme to be challenged.

For the subject, I would like to do an ethnography of a small group of street children (or possibly children who beg, though the two may overlap) in an urban setting. I am thinking of Reddy's 'With Respect to Sex' as a sort of example for a well-written ethnography, she made contact with a certain group of hijras, got to know them, and then was able to enter and understand their world in a new way... I have looked up information on works on street children in India. I have found a few sociology pieces on the "problems" with street children, but I didn't find anything in the way of ethnographic research.

That's why I could see this project as two pieces. First, it could be a straight up culture-of-street-children piece, meant to see the world through their daily experience. Second, this could a.) provide valuable information for those trying to work with/reach street children and/or b.) could involve working with children who are in contact with organizations, and examining how this interaction is changing/affecting their lives.

Additionally, perhaps studying others views of street children, their reactions and views about them, could prove an interesting aspect..but that would probably be going overboard on one research project. Mostly I would want to pick a group of street children living in a close-group in a specific location, that hopefully have had or have ongoing contact with some sort of organization designed to help "improve" their lives in someway. So I could understand their lives and ways of living, and how that intersects with the organizations.

Ok, ok. I'm being repetitve now. I'm just excited by my ideas. I hear there may be IRB, etc issues with working with or studying children, but I guess I will just have to inquire to that and find out.

So that means, for remaining time in grad school I need to a.) do this Hindi program and become as good in Hindi as I can, b.) take classes that incorporate public affairs so I can learn about NGOs, etc for my eventual goal of establishing and NGO c.) take as many applied anthro courses as I can, and start working with and in between the "academic" side and "professional" side. and d.) defy all the norms, and challenge all the assumptions about what it means to be an anthropologist!

WHOO. It's a long days work.


MZ said...

I'm convinced you can do all of the above. I already know of a group (one particular out of the numerous there are) of street children living nearby. They work in the posh Priya complex near JNU. An NGO has come in to teach them basics - reading, writing, basic math. I often wonder about the intersections of their lives, their existence aside middle class shoppers sipping their ridiculously priced drinks, how they see these shoppers going to films lightheartedly, carrying numerous bags from shops these children can only dream of entering, how the NGO is really affecting these children's lives. Such richness to discover. And all the more rich if it resulted in helping these children, empowering these children. I always fear studies studying down though. But, if anyone exists who can do it, my bet's on you.

linzi said...

wow... that does sound like an interesting place...

hmm studies studying down.. what do you mean? I never study down.. I mean, I don't see it as studying down, exactly. Maybe in some respects it COULD become that... I mean there are so many areas like American-Indian, Western-Developing, rich (comparatively)-poor, educated-uneducated..

but I guess, if we are aware of these, we can try and acknowledge how they affect the work.

Also, I don't find myself tobe particularly hierachical. hmm.

thanks for the thoughts!

linzi said...

oh.. one last question I have been wondering .... are most of these kids you see in priya girls, boys, or a mix?

MZ said...

mostly boys.

And the studying down bit. I only meant you coming in as a white middle class woman from a "developed" country studying working class children in a "developing" country. And you pinpointed - acknowledging your position vis-a-vis theirs - is a way to at least give more validity to your study. Can't be more articulate at the moment as my eyelids aren't willing to stay open much longer :)

ArtSweet said...