Sunday, July 7, 2013

My dissertation: Subalternity and Indigenous Existence: Negotiating Development Issues from the Margin

From a communicative perspective, this study seeks to understand how development operates as discourse, in creating and perpetuating conditions of structural absences, and how the subalterns at the margins negotiate and enact their agencies in legitimizing their voices and participatory actions in the discursive spaces. Historically, colonial and Brahminical doctrine portrayed indigenous subalterns as inferior and sub-human; subsequently, modernist epistemology driven dominant development approach labeled them as objects or sites of reform and control. Mainstream development communication approach employed unilateral tailored interventions in diffusing development, and transferring technology in the underserved spaces tomodernize’ the subalterns. Increasingly structural, cultural, and contextual issues have received importance in the contemporary theories of communication for development and social change. This study embraced the theoretical and methodological framework of the Culture-Centered Approach wherein the development processes, and subaltern negotiations are theorized at the interstices of culture, structure and agency of subaltern sectors. Attending to the co-constructive epistemic foundation of Culture-Centered Approach, I engaged in nine months long ethnographic field research in indigenous villages of jungle, Himalayan, and coastal regions of eastern India; over which I conducted 75 in-depth interviews, and wrote filed notes and reflexive journal entries. My study documents articulations and agentic enactments of indigenous subalterns in negotiating with material and communicative in-accesses. Studying the dialogic and participatory engagement of indigenous villagers, this research situates the subalterns as key stakeholders in identifying, and prioritizing situated development needs, as well as in planning, organizing, and implementing local development initiatives (e.g. building a mini-hospital, and constructing walls to protect sacred trees and stones) to address structural shortages. This research foregrounds alternate development rationalities as emerged from the subaltern articulations, (a) in challenging the dominant discourses and conceptualizations of development, and (b) in legitimizing subaltern consciousness and praxis in bringing about social transformations.


Some Relevant Images:
Fieldwork Sites: 

 Himalayan Villages: Buxa-Duar Region
Jungle Villages: Purulia Region
Coastal Villages: Sundarban Region

Field work process:
Collection of ‘Development’ related keywords
Visual Cards (Road, Transportation, Health)
During Fieldwork
Development Project Decisions

Development Project Locations:
 Village: Saloni (Jungle Region)
Village: Chunabhati (Himalayan Region)

Mini-Hospital Project:



Protection Wall Project:


Information Kiosk Project: Prototype Testing:

 Initial version developed at Purdue University
 Collective Sketching Sessions
 Visual Representations: Local Culture
Visual Representations: Local Business and Agricultural Activities

Media Reports:




1 comment:

Mary said...

It is very nice to make a dissertation that has real impact to our life that just following a dissertation structure to be able to graduate a degree.