Jump to content


Recommended Posts

Hello everyone!

I recently finished the first year of my phd program in Anthropology. My focus is in South India, and I was awarded a Pilot Research grant in order to go to India this summer and start making contacts/finding my future research site. Although I like the University I attend, and am grateful for this opportunity, I have not been given much guidance on what to actually do. I am leaving for India towards the end of August, and have selected a few sites to visit(my research has to do with Muslim's who participate in Hindu religious rituals), but at this time I do not speak the language necessary to properly communicate with people. One of the few things I was told is that I do not have to produce a paper or anything like that with this grant, but I would like to if possible. I have some friends in the area I will be going to, and it is through them that I have began to navigate my journey. I should note that I have already been to India 9 times, and so navigating around India is not my concern.  

Any advice would be great. Also, I do not have a background in Anthropology, and the Anthropology theory classes are not until next year, so I am also unclear on which direction to turn towards when writing about my upcoming experiences. 


Thanks in advance, 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congrats on completing your first year! I did a preliminary trip during my master's and it strongly shaped my fieldwork plans (I also had no background in anthropology!). I spoke with a local I knew from years earlier who was connected to my topic. He directed me to the best field site and said he knew some people I could talk to and interview. I lived next door to him during my fieldwork and he introduced me to the person I worked with throughout. I also visited the local archives while I was there and did some informal interviews at similar sites. It was in having those informal chats that I realized that my topic elicited tension and skepticism from interlocutors, so I was able to prepare for that.

If I were in your shoes, my first priority would be to learn the language. Enroll in a language course or look for a tutor who can help you learn the language that will allow you to communicate with people. That will also help you meet people. Since you already have friends, you're ahead of most people! Ask them about who might be the best people to talk to about your research. Then go talk to those people about how you can get involved, ask if they'll introduce you to others, and so on. Do some interviews, network, make connections, let people get to know you so that the next time you visit you're a familiar face.

Pilot projects are about finding out whether your research is feasible, which assumptions you've made work and which don't, and getting a preliminary idea of people's thoughts and experiences related to your project. You may discover that what you expected was all wrong. You may change your field site altogether. You may find that people have no interest in talking about what you want to talk about. It will help you make adjustments to your research proposal and defend what you've put in it. 

I also read Being Ethnographic by Raymond Madden before I did my fieldwork. That was helpful!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for your reply! It's helpful to read about other peoples experiences. I will be studying the language I will use(Telugu) next year through AIIS. My school does not offer the language, but I have put out a bunch of emails to see if there is a community member/faculty member who allow me to do a bit of independent study. The problem is that I am going before that time. 


Thank you again for your reply,



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.