Society for Cultural Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
What does it mean to do ethnographic research as a woman in a militarized region in India? Drawing on Chandra Mohanty’s ‘Desi Feminism’, this paper is a ‘Desi’ take on stories of embodiment and navigating power relationships during fieldwork in the state of Manipur, India. Using my fieldwork experience of living in Manipur, I map the unique ways in which my body as a researcher navigates the ‘Desi’ or South Asian societal structures, which is constantly seen in conflict with my location as a researcher associated with an American university. I probe ‘embodiment’ as a concept to understand what it means to work as a woman researcher to negotiate various subjectivities like gender, caste, class, and religion during fieldwork in a conflict region of Manipur. I engage with gendered experiences of power differentials, and negotiations with interlocutors and gatekeepers of the communities who are critical to my everyday survival as a researcher. I consider what embodiment might mean even before arriving at the field site, especially in terms of thinking through emotional needs, everyday life, affective labor, the anxiety of doing transnational fieldwork, support networks, and self-care.