‘Taking care of our own’: From mentorship to peership in anthropology

While the title of this post does seem a bit like a Bruce Springsteen Born-In-The-USA-esque track, it actually draws from a phrase I’ve used a couple of times with some of my peers, that we “anthro [grads] need to take care of our own” – our tribe, if one’s pushing the metaphor too much.

Being in a graduate programme can be, and is, challenging. Especially for many of my peers who have been new to anthropology. More so for those who begin to work professionally, after being trained in anthropology, in related-but-different domains (e.g., qualitative research, medical anthropology, science and technology studies).

There are similar struggles, of course, in education/pedagogy and among professionals. The most common one, I have noticed, can be phrased as thus: how is anthropology relevant? Continue reading


An anthropologist among front-line workers: Part 2

(This post is a continuation of an argument I had made in the last one. Read it here).

Sanjay, Jagdish, Pankaj* and I were eating lunch at the NGO’s community centre. It was a Sunday, and we had just finished a session on gender and sexuality with young boys from the community.

As we finished lunch – a combination of chicken curry and rice, and some sheera# for desert – Sanjay said, introspectively, “Hum field staff, ground level pe kaam karne wale log, kadi patte jaisa hain.” We field staff, those who work on the ground level, are like curry leaves. Continue reading

An anthropologist among researchers: Part 1

(This post is the first part of a two-part series of posts on my experiences with researchers in the NGO, and with it’s front-line staff. You can read Part 2 here).
In this post, I am taking a slight detour from the front-line space(s) that has been the subject of my previous blogs – or rather, I am expanding the term itself into a different site of research.

As the title suggests, my primary interlocutors are changing as well. Continue reading