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Ethnography of South Asia
Course Info
Instructor: Dr. Sara Shneiderman
Pandemic Experiences Knowledgebase
2020 Wiki Projects
Help & Resources

Welcome to the wiki project space for ANTH302A: Ethnography of South Asia.

This assignment asks you to apply your cumulative learning from this course to identify, analyze, and present useful knowledge and analysis about experiences of the pandemic across South Asia in an open access UBC Wiki page.

The idea is to use knowledge about South Asia, and anthropological approaches to understanding it, that you have gained throughout this course to distill information for a public audience about rapidly evolving real world events in the region of the world that we are studying. For me, anthropology is about contributing meaningful, situated knowledge to broader projects to alleviate inequality and suffering. We can do this by providing a window into real people’s lives through ethnographic description, accompanied by careful analysis of how people are affected by policy frameworks. Most recently I have had to put this objective into practice in relation to Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes. In this final assignment, I invite you to join me in thinking creatively about how to do this in relation to the pandemic by synthesizing the various approaches to South Asia that you have encountered in this course into a short Wiki entry that considers how themes we have studied intersect with the pandemic in a specific region of South Asia.

About the Wiki Project

Group Work

Each tutorial reading group (A1, A2, etc) will be assigned a region of South Asia to focus on (see list at end of assignment). Each group will develop a separate Wiki page documenting pandemic experiences and responses in their assigned location. Within each group, each student will select a theme to consider in that location. For example, individual sections could address themes such as: How does COVID-19 intersect with gender inequality in Sri Lanka? How do borders and ideas of the nation-state affect responses to the pandemic in Kashmir? How do ideas about caste and religion affect experiences of stigma in relation to in South India? How did technologies of development intersect with social location in Nepal to affect experiences of quarantine? These are just examples of the kinds of framing questions that you might wish to consider.

The group will work together to confirm the thematic focus of each student’s contribution. Each student will then individually author their section of the Wiki. At the same time, the group will work together to coauthor a brief introduction to the page as a whole, which provides basic information about the region, and summarizes the individual contributions in an integrated manner. The shared introduction should include at least one photo, map, or other form of visualization to draw readers in and illustrate the page as a whole. A shared reference list will be created at the end of the page through use of the Wiki citation tool. Each student will insert their own references, and the tool will generate the integrated list at the end of the page.

Individual Work

Each student must individually author a Wiki section of approximately 1000 words that draws upon at least 3 sources of evidence in the public domain to provide ethnographic evidence (these could include media sources, reports from NGOs or governments, online interviews with community members, etc); and at least 3 sources from any part of the course syllabus to develop an analytical framework which can be applied to interpret that evidence.

Each student will choose a primary thematic question as the focus of their contribution to their group’s Wiki page (see examples above). Taken together, each group’s work should comprise a substantial body of knowledge about specific socio-political contexts in the assigned region, which could actually be of use to someone responding to the pandemic — or someone responding to other future disasters. Imagine your audience to be local, national and international observers, responders, and scholars.

Each student’s section should:

  • Be approximately 1000 words
  • Focus on the assigned region of South Asia (individual sections may focus on a specific sub-region, i.e. single state or province)
  • Include a section heading that clearly indicates their theme: for example: ‘Environmental Effects of Lockdown’; ‘Migrant Workers’ Challenges of Repatriation’ ‘Gendered Dimensions’; ‘Borderland Concerns’, ‘Privatization of Healthcare’ etc
  • Contain at least 6 linked citations, including 3 readings from any part of the course syllabus and 3 sources of evidence in the public domain. More citations are fine if relevant to the theme
  • Contain one relevant and appropriately cited photo, map, or other form of visualization to illustrate the thematic section (more visual materials cannot be accommodated due to space limitations)
  • Connect to the group’s overall approach as articulated in the co-authored Introduction

2020 Project Timeline

  • August 10: Assignment distributed; Wiki orientation from Will Engle and Rie Namba, UBC CTLT
  • August 11-12: Students should connect with members of their group outside of class time to discuss possible thematic approaches
  • August 13: Students submit one paragraph brainstorm about their individual section theme, as part of their Week 6 Discussion Post.
  • August 14: Tutorial time will be spent in breakout groups, workshopping these ideas and the structure of each group’s Wiki page; each group will share their plans with the full tutorial at the end
  • August 15-17: Students work on individual sections, informal peer review within groups
  • August 17: TAs will schedule 15 minute meetings with members of each group to check in and workshop ideas
  • August 18-19: Students finalize individual sections and co-author group introductions; draft pages posted by end of day Aug 19 – each group should post the link to their Wiki through the Draft Wiki Discussion Forum in their Canvas Tutorial group
  • August 20: 24 hours for peer feedback to other groups – group pairs will be assigned. Feedback due by end of day Aug 20. Each student shares comments as a ‘Reply’ in the Discussion Forum
  • August 21: Each group makes final revisions based on feedback, final Wiki due by end of day