Past Event

Witness to History: Fieldwork and Ethics at the Margins

August 8, 2019
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
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Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai, 12-13, Maker Chambers VI, First floor, Jamnalal Bajaj Road, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021

What happens when a community is determined to control its own history and you, the researcher, are a crucial agent they want to deploy as witness? 

In this presentation, Dr. Ravina Aggarwal, will draw from her extensive fieldwork in the Himalayan borderlands of Ladakh to provide insights on ethnography as a method of historical knowledge production.  She will outline the strategies, tools, and ethical challenges of doing research in a place where historical truth is deeply contested and the very identity of a social group is at stake. 

The lecture will be followed by a participatory exercise. 

This program will inaugurate the 'Historical Methods Seminar Series' co-hosted by the Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai and the South Asia Institute at Columbia University in partnership with the Mumbai History Teachers Academy.


About the speaker:

Ravina Aggarwal

Dr. Ravina Aggarwal has been the Director of the Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai since 2015.  She is a sociocultural anthropologist with a doctoral degree from Indiana University in 1994.  Her research is based on three decades of fieldwork in the Himalayas and her areas of study and teaching included political anthropology, ethnographic methods, peace-building, cultural studies, gender, and development.  Dr. Aggarwal was a tenured faculty member at Smith College, where she taught from 1994-2010. 
Prior to joining the Center, Dr. Aggarwal worked at the Ford Foundation’s New Delhi office, where she was responsible for strategic planning and grant-making for programs on development, social justice and public policy, with a focus on the fields of higher education, media and information technology, and arts and culture. 
Dr. Aggarwal is the author of several publications, including Beyond Lines of Control: Performing the Border in Ladakh, India (Duke University Press, Seagull Books), and the editor of Into the High Ranges (Penguin India) and Forsaking Paradise (Katha). She has recently completed a mystery novel for young adults set in the Himalayas.