Postgraduate students

The New Zealand South Asia Centre has a an ongoing commitment to relevant postgraduate research. Here are some of our student researchers. 

Anuradha Deb, PhD candidate Media & Communication

My research focuses on India, including Media & Communication, Feminism, Post colonial studies, South Asian Studies, Journalism, and Cultural studies. My principle publications are:

  • Revisiting the Documentary Film: Encounters at the End of the World: Werner Herzog. LENSIGHT,Quarterly Academic Journal of Film and Media, ISSN 2395-4604. Film & Television Institute of India, Pune. 2016
  • "The State of our Minds and Media" published at "The Literary Voyage" International Journal for scholarly and creative writings. Refereed and peer reviewed. Vol111, Issue 1, ISSN 2348 5272, Rachna Publishing House, India. 2016
  • "Television and Globalization" International Journal of Research (IJR) Vol-2, Issue-10,Oct 2016.ISSN:2348-6848
  • Dissertation paper titled Globalization and Cultural Specificities in the contemporary Indian Media (1998).
  • Short films (RENDEZVOUS) submitted to the Jadavpur University, Dept. of FILM STUDIES, Kolkata, as part of the Master’s degree assignment. 1998
  • “100 years of Indian Cinema” – Documentary- produced, scripted and researched. (available on You tube)
  • Documentary on the life of film maker Subhash Ghai. Produced, scripted and researched. (available on You tube) 2013
  • AV on the screen journey of The first “FILM STAR” of India - Behrupiya (Dilip Kumar) (available on you tube) 2013

Anuj Misra

My research focuses on mathematical and scientific exchanges that flourished at the Mughal court of seventeenth century India. I’m editing, translating, and analyzing a work on mathematical astronomy called the Sarvasiddhāntarāja (1639 CE), a Sanskrit treatise written by the Hindu astronomer Nityānanda, royal astronomer at court of Shāh Jāhān. This text is known to be amongst the first siddhāntic texts that incorporate Ptolemaic and Islamic astronomy within the Indian canonical tradition, and by critically examining the structural and mathematical content of the 132 verses that form the golādhyāya, I've been able get some insight into the modality of scientific exchanges that thrived during the reign of the Mughals.

Chandan Bose, PhD candidate Anthropology

ChandanThesis title: Is there an Indian way of Telling a Story? Technique, Performance and Function of Narration of Cherial Scrolls of Telangana.
A significant group of narrative paintings from the Telangana region of the Deccan in India, called Cherial paintings, with subject matter reflecting the local interpretation of the classical mythologies, has been fairly recently added to the corpus of Indian art. Executed in bold style, they are the largest in size among the known examples of Indian pigment paintings on cloth. This research, a deep-ethography based in the politically volatile Telagana region of Andhra Pradesh, attempts to document a selection of these paintings, not only for their technique and purpose of narration, but also for their sophisticated contribution to the historical discussion and philosophical speculation on identity and shared culture. Painted by village artists, and performed by itinerant bards for particular caste communities, these scroll paintings perpetuate the ancient tradition of story-telling and of recording collective histories through visual material accompanied by narration.

Tuhina Ganguly, PhD candidate Anthropology

Thesis title: Imagining India as a Spiritual Travel Destination
This project explores the narratives and lives of North American and Western European spiritual practitioners in Puducherry, India. Situating their travel narratives within the context of the sixties’ counter-culture, when most of them first travelled to India, this thesis argues that their quest for anti-modernity and authenticity signals a thoroughly modern phenomenon. Juxtaposed with their negotiations with the everyday life of India and their hopes for a utopian universalist future, these narratives reveal the socio-political tensions inherent in re-imagining and re-creating an authentic ‘spiritual India’.

Kathleen Harrington Watt, PhD candidate Anthropology

Thesis title: Privileged Photographs: The social agency of the British Indentured Migrant photographic archives of Mauritius.
This research is centred on the Island of Mauritius and the Indian indentured migrant colonial photographic archives. These archives not only play a significant role in understanding the history of Mauritius and its colonial past, they also perform as present day icons of identity and belonging in Mauritian social, political, and vernacular contexts. This thesis seeks to understand the unique context and setting of these photographic archives and their powerful social agency. The social relationships of these archives are bound by both history and modernity. Over the last 150 years they have been through multiple processes of adaptation and transformation and play a significant role in all areas of Mauritian society today. The methods used to conduct this research rely on the concepts of participant authority and collaboration, and include visual research methods such as photo-elicitation, film, and interview.

Paul Keil- PhD candidate Anthropology, Macquarie University (research student of Piers Locke, University of Canterbury)

Thesis title: Human-Elephant entanglements on the fringe of forest and village in Assam, Northeast India
A Prime Minister’s Endeavour award recipient, Keil conducted 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Assam, amongst communities who live on the fringes of elephant habitat and must negotiate place with these formidable animals on a day-to-day basis. His anthropology PhD thesis aspires to look beyond the common theme of ‘conflict’ in analyses of human-elephant interactions, asking what other kinds of relational dynamics might exist on social and ecological levels. Drawing upon multispecies ethnography and ethnoelephantology, Keil’s research attempts to speak across disciplines, and explore ways of conceptualising social worlds populated by both human and nonhuman agents.

Sahrish Khan, PhD candidate Anthropology

Thesis title: Indian-Pakistani Marriages in London and the Human Dynamics of Transnationalism
This research is concerned with the ways that geographical borders and migrant cultures influence marital selection and exchange processes between Sunni Muslim Indian and Pakistani ethnic groups residing in London. It asks how significant religious identity is with regard to national or cultural identity in these transnational dialogues of marriage? Given the longstanding bilateral conflict between India and Pakistan, is there any ‘cultural risk’ associated with cross border marriages between these two ethnic groups, and if there is indeed a taboo/cultural risk, is this negated if the potential partner holds a foreign nationality? The case studies examined in this project will not only explore the importance of transnational connections, but also of national borders and geographical distance with regard to what anthropologists often refer to as the ‘human dynamics of transnationalism.’

Mohammed Khan, PhD candidate Sociology

MohammedThesis title: Disaster and Gendered Vulnerability in Coastal Bangladesh
This research is concerned with gender relations and the vulnerability of women in coastal Bangladesh, which is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather events. The specific objectives of this research are to explore the nexus between unequal distribution and lack of entitlements to resources in relation to gendered vulnerability, effectiveness of women leadership in disaster management, institutional local practices that cause disproportionate vulnerability for women, female headed households, their vulnerability and resilience and how to develop a bottom up approach.

Ambika Kohli, PhD candidate Sociology

AmbikaThesis title: Abortions, Motherhood and Decision Making in India Among the Urban Middle-Class
This research examines reproductive agency of educated married urban middle-class women with children. The study investigates how these women make decisions regarding when to be a mother and when to have an abortion, and while making these choices how do women negotiate with and resist against patriarchal structures and other various socio-cultural factors. Further, this thesis also looks into how participants’ treatment of their daughters and sons and expectations of them are being reshaped in contemporary times in urban India.

Mukti Prakash Thapaliya, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Educational Studies and Leadership

PhD research title : Moving towards inclusive education: How inclusive education is understood, experienced and enacted in Nepalese primary school
The purpose of this study is to provide a detailed understanding of how two primary schools have implemented the Nepalese government's aims to build an inclusive education system. What is learned from this study will potentially be useful for further policy development including continuing to refine teacher education and professional learning for inclusive education. As a teacher educator of more than eight years, I hope to make a difference to how we prepare teachers in Nepal. Twenty years ago the United Nations (UN) declared that inclusive education is the defining mission for today’s education: "… considering the fundamental policy shifts required to promote the approach of inclusive education, namely enabling schools to serve all children, particularly those with special educational needs" (UNESCO, 1994, p. iii).Inclusive education is promoted on the basis of social justice, individual rights, rights to equal access, non-discrimination and social opportunity (Winzer, 2009). The World Declaration on Education for All (EFA) in Thailand (1990) set a vision to universalize access to education for all children, young people and adults and to promote equity (UNESCO, 2009b). Arguably we are still some way from achieving these aims. For example, Gabel and Danforth (2008) say, “in spite of the resources behind the multiple international agencies invested in EFA, today, millions of children cannot obtain a basic childhood education, particularly in countries with limited resources" (p.4).

The government of Nepal has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and is a signatory to most of the statements calling for Education For All and for inclusive education. Nevertheless many children and young people continue to not succeed at school, and there continue to be high drop-out rates for some groups of children in particular. Despite increasing investment in education, the situation has not improved, perhaps as a result of various factors including teacher performance, classroom management issues, choice of text book, curriculum design, policy, discrimination, barriers and so on. Some children in Nepal continue to experience exclusion based on their colour and physical status. Armstrong et al. (2000) suggest that exclusion may be due to how various individuals and societies construct and respond to personal and cultural differences. Most of the in my village people follow the Hindu religion, and believe in the concept of Karma. In this view, privileges and deficits of the current life are to be attributed to the sins of one’s past life (Gabel & Danforth, 2008). Exclusion can also occur at the policy level. Hardy and Woodcock (2014) describe the ways different policies understand and treat define ‘difference’-rather than take difference as a fact- they pay attention to how it is socially constructed and the ways policy discourses produce difference.

There have been studies of the move towards inclusive education in some of the neighbouring countries of Nepal, but to date there have been no studies of inclusive education in practice in Nepal. This thesis proposes an in-depth ethnographic study of two primary schools where the schools aim to provide inclusive education for all students. The study will canvass the views of students, families, teachers, school administrators, other school stakeholders and education officers as well as observe the everyday classroom practices and experiences of students and teachers.