Our fellow Shruti Malik visited India for a research stay at the beginning of this year. She began her stay with an interdisciplinary conference at the Indian Institute of Technology where she presented a paper. Read here about Shruti’s experience at the conference:
In February 2023 I got the chance to present my work in the SMUS, Global Centre for Spatial Methods of Urban Sustainability conference held at the Indian Institute of Technology. The conference was focused on developing transdisciplinary spatial methods that bring together research methods from various spatial disciplines, such as sociology, geography, humanities, architecture, urban planning and design and transportation planning. The conference started with methods training. Various experts from the fields gave workshops on methods including, for example, street ethnography, visual ethnography, and field methods along with data discussions with both quantitative data and qualitative data with students, PhDs, and post docs from various disciplines. I was a part of a workshop on street ethnography led by Dr Prof. Fraya Frehse from Brazil during which we stepped into the market of Roorkee to practice entering the field and observing in terms of notes, sketches, interviews. After the two days of being on the street, we got back in the classroom and circulated our various observations. We reflected on the methods used to gain an insight on how ethnography functions as a method of research and knowledge production. Moreover, it was interesting to see how ethnography as a method was applied in the field research by researchers from disciplines like architecture, urban planning, and engineering to discuss mobility, transportation that effused with the discussion on the social spatial practices of the market in Roorkee.
Post the methods training days, the presentations officially began where I presented my paper in the panel called ‘Spatial methods of producing publicness’. Within this context I spoke about the use of thick comparison as a method within ethnography that I extend to the transnational project where I study walking tours in Delhi and Berlin, as a means to negotiate and reflectively make aware of the nation based hegemonic structures that produce knowledge. The core idea of looking at the method is to not go into the field with established categories but to produce categories and comparison using the field data. Using this method, I get the chance to look at the various layers of publicness that gets produced on the streets of Delhi and Berlin and conceptualise how notions of conflicts are perceived and negotiated, the politics of publicness, and the sense making quality that walking as a social practice inherits. Using and through the data making Berlin and Delhi comparable. I got some very interesting feedback from practicing architects and urbanists and got the chance to engage in some very inspiring discussions around publicness, and urban ethnography from various fields that added some critical reflections towards my work.