My research work is based in Banaras and it conceptually deals with the question of identity in an imaginary and/or symbolic space. Banaras has been produced and reproduced as a Hindu city through various verbal, visual and performative modalities. The constructed sensorium which is available to us through existing literature, mass media and travelogues, reiterates the identity of this city-space as a Hindu city. While, another much talked identity of this city-space is represented through the identity of Banarasia- which is thought of as a "secular" identity, eternal to the ethos of the city. Therefore, the identity of Banaras has kept oscillating between these two very different polarities. However, it is interesting to note that one fourth of the population of Banaras is constituted by Muslims. The Muslim weavers of Banaras have been contributing significantly in the production of its material culture through their craft. The invisibility of this cultural group in the representation of Banaras is striking. Through my ethnographic work, I am interested in locating the Muslim identity in the representation of Banaras. I want to find out how the sensorium of the city is available to Muslim Identity. How does this identity perform itself in the material and tactile surface of the city-space? My project also asks questions, how an imaginary or a symbolic space is constructed while seeking to locate empirical markers of a space, in order to conceptualize its cosmology or physical and mental locations of this space.
Research Interests: Urban Anthropology, Space, Identity, Visuality.
Teaching Assistant: Visuality, Power, Optics (SOC 228), Spring 2021
UGC Junior Research Fellowship 2019
Krishna Raj Research Fellowship 2017