I completed my PhD in Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, in 2012. Since submitting my PhD I have held 3 teaching positions, 2 research positions and completed internships in the Houses of Parliament. I am currently working as a lecturer in Goldsmiths Anthropology Department, and as a project coordinator with the Community Environmental Monitoring project of The Other Media. In Goldsmiths I convene three courses: Anthropology Today (1st year BA), Anthropology and the Environment/Environmental Anthropology (3rd year BA/MA option) and Contemporary Social Issues term 2 (MA). The Other Media is an Indian nongovernmental organisation (NGO) based in Chennai, and my role with them is as coordinator of a baseline community environmental and social resources mapping exercise in Tamilnadu. I am also a consultant with the Open University as part of the Oecumene: Citizenship After Orientalism research project.
I believe that one of the best ways to approach issues of politics and social change is through a detailed understanding of the cultures, societies and practices of the people involved. My research, which has focused on issues and activism relating to development, health and the environment in western and southern India, reflects this belief. The foundation of my research has been prolonged multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork with a community of health activists in western India, drawing extensively on oral history and participant observation to understand the social relations of the community and the significance of categories of activism to its everyday practices. In my postdoctoral project I complement this approach by initiating a comparative longitudinal study of social change in three villages in southern India, in the context of an activist research project I am conducting with The Other Media. My postdoctoral project builds on three key aspects of my previous education and work: the understanding of civil society, governance and social change I developed in my PhD research, groundwork completed during my time with The Other Media, and my academic training in three relevant disciplines – social anthropology, economics and political science.
My doctoral research aims at understanding a community of health activists in western India in terms of their connections to the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (People's Health Movement), a national network of health activists, with a particular focus on this community's engagement with the health policies of the central government. Fieldwork was conducted over a period of 20 months between 2007 and 2009, involving intensive work with the professional staff of an Indian NGO in the city of Pune and the activists and members of a mass-membership people's organisation in adivasi (tribal) areas of Thane district, as well as interviews in a wide range of locations across India and in Bangladesh and the UK, and collection of a variety of documentation from NGOs in Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore. The central argument of my thesis is that our understandings of activism are enhanced if we analyse how activists construct and maintain their identities in relation to each other, the consequences of these constructions and the purposes they serve. My research findings have implications for understandings of the role of civil society in governance and development, and understandings of policy processes more broadly.
During the autumn of 2011 I worked as a researcher as part of phase one of the Reading the Riots research project. The first phase of the project, born out of a partnership between the London School of Economics and Guardian Media Group, aimed to explore people's involvement in what have been described as the "England riots", focusing on how and why they became involved, and what they did during the disturbances and why. The main component of the research project involved anonymised and confidential interviews with a sizeable sample of people involved in the riots. My role was to arrange, conduct, record and transcribe interviews with individuals involved in the riots. One of my interviews was selected as one of 12 quoted from in a BBC documentary broadcast in August 2012.