Ashna Mary Jacob:
Ashna’s research is an enquiry into mythopoeia and a comparative study of British and Indian mythic fiction. She contends that mythopoeia is the predecessor of myth, and myth and mythopoeia is a non-uniform cyclical process that alternates across time and space. With this premise, she analyses the mythopoeic deities constructed by J.R.R. Tolkien and Amish Tripathi to demonstrate how the mythopoeic is born out of a perceived absence of myth. As a result of her interest in mythic fiction, Ashna has also developed an interest in mythologies, legends and folklore. She is especially interested in popular retellings and the ideologies that govern these productions. Her other areas of interest include popular fiction and popular culture, nation fetishes and their consumption through the popular medium. With numerous inroads into popular fiction both on global and local spheres, she finds it encouraging to study the culture industry, especially on comparative scales.
I Watitula Longkumer:
Wati’s research is focused on North-East India literature, concentrating especially on the contemporary women writers and their narrative representation in the fictional works. Her dissertation discusses the cultural dynamics, ethnic conflict, intellectual traditions, knowledge transactions, and creativity of the indigenous communities, a literary world that remains largely unknown in current scholarship. Her interests in exploring the indigenous tribes of North-East India through the fictional works comes from a deep-seated curiosity of the unique oral narratives of the tribal community, dispensed from a rich history of culture. Broadly, her interests and contribution to this area of research is an exercise to reduce our collective ignorance about the communities generally described as “indigenous” and to looking beyond its simplistic expression as, “a celebration of diversity”. She looks at this project as the starting point for her long-term research goal of expanding the field of study of North-East India literature. Her larger project will help us to understand how the indigenous voice is a “new voice” to the existing literary texts and how literature is identified as a key measure in ensuring a culture’s durability.
Reema’s research is an understanding of biographical films representing India’s new middle classes in the postcolonial era. In particular, her study demonstrates how the biopics themselves can be positioned within the matrix of historicity of persons and events thereby producing further intertextuality. The study examines the biographical films on the basis of narrative theme for comparison to be drawn in approaches to similar subject matter. The films are categorised into subsequent Thugs/Bandits, Postfeminist, Partition and Riots narrative. Her study addresses the dynamic interplay of history-making in biopic genre and suggests a new model for understanding the liberal construction of historicity in popular culture. As an extension of her research, she is interested to build a digital archive of thugs and thuggee records of Madhya Pradesh dating back to early nineteenth century. To visualize the contribution of biopics to Hindi Cinema and its inflection of sociocultural syncretism of post-independence India she finds it very exciting and a novel way to graphically summarize the thug narrative using visualization software.
The primary objective of Shaifali’s Digital Documentation project is to create an open access visual and narrative based digital archive of partition and post-partition testimonies developed through audio-video transcripts and photographs. The audio-visual transcripts will be collected through personal interviews of the partition witnesses, their families, and subsequent generations by visiting their villages. The aim of the project is to revive collective cultural memories in Bahawalpur community in the process of conducting oral interviews with partition survivors and to ultimately document and preserve their ancient cultural and literary practices into an open access digital documentation project in order to present a part of history that is obscuring in the remains of partition. The data collection process which is already in progress is gathering cultural artefacts, ancient literary scripts of Saraiki/Lahnda, speech samples of community’s language, recorded in forms of various genres such as songs, stories, myths, beliefs, and partition testimonies that may also serve as significant sources of information for academic purposes.
Shanmuga’s research is focused on the impact of digital culture in the 21st Indian literature is largely anchored with narration, publication and practice which is much unexplored area in Indian scholarship. The pivotal points of digital techniques in the narration are identified as the contribution of digital technologies in the themes and the participation of digital materials in the formulation of works. These kinds of digital influences are persistently evolving in Indian literary landscape. Not surprisingly, then, digital platforms are utilized for promotion, dissemination and publication of Indian literary works. Similarly, the paradigm shift occurs in the new literary practice/expression in the Indian digital spaces such as social media narratives; flash fiction, twitterfiction and poetry, and SMS novels. However, these new creative works are not identified as electronic literature. Broadly, her interest focuses in practicing digital humanities methodology to explore literary and media works. Conducting research through digital platform, tools and software which offer new insights in the way we carry out traditional research.
Wati and Reema carried out a summer project on Gulabi Gang in Atarra, Uttar Pradesh 6th – 9th May 2015 under the Supervision of Dr. Nirmala Menon. This project is an extension of their paper presented at the 15th Annual South Asian Literary Association (SALA) Conference on Borders, Boundaries and Margins, Vancouver, Canada January 06-07, 2015. They are currently engaged in transcribing the video interview taken with Sampat Pal Devi, the leader of the women’s movement for publication.
Melissa is a 2017-2018 Fulbright-Nehru Research Scholar collaborating with the
Research and Publishing Group on her project “Exploring the Effect of the Right to Education Act (RTE) in Rural Madhya Pradesh.” RTE states that all children aged six to fourteen are guaranteed access to education. However, Madhya Pradesh is one of the largest and most rural states in India, making it difficult to assess the barriers to accessing education in this region. Ms. DeLury is conducting interviews and focus groups in rural schools and communities, the results of which are being digitally housed and shared with the DHRPG to help inform policy. Melissa received a bachelor’s degree in History from Saint Anselm College in 2010. She went on to work in the international human rights field in New York, both at No Peace Without Justice and the International Crisis Group, as well as in India, where she served as an education consultant. Seeing the impact of education in rural communities while in India motivated her decision to pursue an M.Phil in International Peace Studies from Trinity College Dublin. She intends to pursue a Ph.D. in International Education following this Fulbright to explore the intersection of post-colonialism, education, history textbooks, national narratives, and identity formations. Specifically, how education has contributed to conflict and how it can also be used to facilitate peace.