Book Project: How Development Feels
In my current book project, How Development Feels, I critically interrogate contemporary global poverty alleviation efforts in education through eight years of fieldwork conducted with Adhyaapaka, an education NGO in India. I focus on the leadership of this organization, an emerging class of Indian diaporic tech workers who position themselves as the idealized ‘face’ of development in India. I argue that this phenomenon obscures the colonial-era racialized discourses embedded in their “interventions” and in the Indian context, I term this the brown savior industrial complex, a racialized regime of value which sees the Indian, upper caste, upper middle class, diasporic technocrat as the driver of social change. I found that for the brown saviors in my study, the method of intervention was to develop digital technologies (smart phone apps, open source softwares, etc.) which they saw as a panacea for social change. These softwares were used to integrate all 3.7 million primary school students in Karnataka state into one technological system, which was accessible by the organization at any time and allowed for mass scalability, auditing, and surveillance. Yet, while these folks espoused ideologies based on their transnational and technological experiences, they employed village-based fieldworkers who opposed the imposition of ideologies that diminished local needs, values, and aspirations. Given the hierarchized differences between these two emerging groups, the fieldworkers and local recipients of NGO interventions experienced particular kinds of material and psychological crises, collectively constituting a set of affects I refer to as “how development feels”. This research was funded by a Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowship, Provost’s New Media Research Grant, a Zwicker Award, and a Curiosity Postdoctoral Research Fellowship.
For more visit my research page.
Anthropological Airwaves explores the craft of anthropology in all of its forms. Building on the journal’s commitment to four-field, multimodal research, the podcast hosts conversations about anthropological projects—from fieldwork and publishing to the discipline’s role in public debates. By demystifying the craft of anthropology, the podcast broaches a series of fundamental questions about past, present, and future disciplinary practice, and charts new paths for anthropological engagement.
Executive Producer: Arjun Shankar
When Science Met Race
As part of my commitment to social change, I make documentary films that help make politically relevant scholarship accessible to broader audiences. For example, I co-directed a documentary film on the history of scientific racism through a critical re-excavation of the Morton Skull Collection, one of the largest collections of skulls in the United States that became the basis for racial categorization. Recent events in the United States– Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston – have all re-generated scientistic conversations about the validity of race as a basis for public policy in education, health care, and the criminal justice system. In order to challenge some of these incorrect but popularly circulating views, the University of Pennsylvania proposed five public classrooms intended to build a safe space to inclusively interrogate the science of racist thinking. This documentary emerged out of this larger project to make questions of race and science accessible to a general public, with filmic content that could be easily digestible by students from late middle school onwards. The film also seeks to complicate the black/white binary, re-framing racial construction as a complex global phenomena embedded in post/settler colonial histories, ongoing imperial wars, and capitalist moral economies.
camra is an interdisciplinary collective of researchers and educators committed to participatory, experimental media-making. We engage in projects and workshops that use multimodal representation to push knowledge production in new directions. We develop productive partnerships with community organizations and scholars. We organize supportive spaces for creating and showcasing new work, such as our annual Screening Scholarship Media Festival. And we critically examine how technology is changing teaching and learning in higher education.
More info @ camrapenn.org
Check out camra @ Ethnographic Terminalia 2014 here!
The Center for Curiosity (CfC) conducts and engages in transdisciplinary research into the concept of "curiosity." We believe that curiosity as a practice bolsters essentials "soft skills" such as motivation, creativity, tolerance, civility, and resilience. The CfC team develops practices that can facilitate curiosity in individuals of all ages.
CfC envisions itself as a center that conducts rigorous research on curiosity, establishes assessment criteria by which to measure curiosity, and raises awareness of curiosity’s benefits for classroom learning. The ideas we develop and the teaching tools we create are for anyone curious enough to try a new approach to classroom learning.
Led by Dr. Deborah Thomas, Dr. John L. Jackson Jr., and Junior Gabo Wedderburn, BAD FRIDAY focuses on a community of Rastafarians in western Jamaica who annually commemorate the 1963 Coral Gardens "incident," a moment just after independence when the Jamaican government rounded up, jailed and tortured hundreds of Rastafarians. It chronicles the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community, and shows how people use their recollections of past traumas to imagine new possibilities for a collective future. More info @ badfridaythemovie.com