Reading Seminar on Diversification of Social Research Methods with Dr Sanjay Sharma

Discussion Type: Reading Seminar | Date: 01 Feb 2023 | Time: 07:30 AM


Reading Seminar on Diversification of Social Research Methods

with Dr Sanjay Sharma


Organized by Martin Chautari

Course Description:
The social science landscape in Nepal is dominated by doing research either through surveys, including big data (for quantitative researchers), and in-depth/interviews and focus group discussions (for qualitative researchers). This exploratory research methodology reading seminar attempts to diversify the methods, tools and conditions of doing social research. These diversification strategies are some of the many available options that researchers can adopt. These research methods are normally ignored and marginalised with the availability of more established and “mainstream” methods like surveys and interviews. Furthermore, with the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers have realised that the conventional methods of doing research have their own boundaries and to curb those limitations, there is a need to adopt enabling alternatives. Many of the methodologies proposed in this reading seminar are marginalised approaches informed by feminist and decolonial thoughts and make the research process more egalitarian and collaborative by working with the research interlocutors in knowledge production.

Sanjay Sharma has a PhD from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, National University of Singapore (NUS). His doctoral research offers a gender critique of the militarisation and transnational migration of Gurkha soldier families. He uses “alternative methodologies” as his research tools that include virtual and visual ethnography, social media engagements, and online and on-site archives. His research interests include feminist historiography, decolonial thought, Marxist literature, and colonial migrations.

Seminar Dates: February 1, February 8, February 15, February 22, March 1, March 8, March 15 (2023); Wednesdays.
Time: 7:30-9:30 am
Venue: Martin Chautari Seminar Hall, Thapathali, Kathmandu.
Course Fee: NRs. 2,000

Eligibility Requirements: (i) You must be studying at the MA level or have at least an MA degree in the social sciences; (ii) You should be willing to do all the assigned readings and come to the seminar prepared to discuss them (see below for details); (iii) You should be able to read English proficiently.

Application Process: Please submit a 500-word essay (in English or Nepali) explaining (a) your research experiences and interests; and (b) how taking this seminar fits into your current and future academic plans. Please also include a one-page CV of yours with full contact details including your current email address and telephone numbers. For online applications, please fill up this Google Form and attach the requested essay and CV as indicated in the form. You can also submit the above in person at MC’s office (27 Jeet Jung Marg, Thapathali, Kathmandu) in a closed envelope that states “Application for Research Methods Seminar” on the front side. The application deadline is extended till January 20, 2023. Successful applicants will be notified by January 23, 2023. They will have to enroll by January 27, 2023 by paying the course fee to Martin Chautari. Soft copies of the reading materials will be provided after the payment.

Successful applicants can make the payment either in cash at the front desk of Martin Chautari during office hours, or they can pay it electronically (via e-Sewa ID 9848867217).

For further information, please contact:
Martin Chautari
Tel: 5338050, 4102027, 4102243

Reading Schedule

Class 1: Pandemic and precarity

Butler, Judith, and George Yancy. 2020. Interview: Mourning Is a Political Act Amid the Pandemic and Its Disparities (Republication). Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 17(4): 483–487.

Günel, Gökçe, Saiba Varma, and Chika Watanabe. 2020. A Manifesto for Patchwork Ethnography. Member Voices, Fieldsights, June 9.

Keleman Saxena, Alder and Jennifer Lee Johnson. 2020. Cues for Ethnography in Pandamning Times: Thinking with Digital Sociality in the Covid-19 Pandemic. May 31.    


Class 2: Concepts

Dragojlovic, Ana, and Annemarie Samuels. 2021. Tracing Silences: Towards an Anthropology of the Unspoken and Unspeakable. History and Anthropology 32(4): 417–425. DOI: 10.1080/02757206.2021.1954634

Finke, Laurie. 1986. The Rhetoric of Marginality: Why I Do Feminist Theory. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 5(2): 251–272.

Michael, Sarah. 2005. The Promise of Appreciative Inquiry as an Interview Tool for Field Research. Development in Practice 15(2): 222–230.

Additional readings

Beck, Ulrich. 2007. The Cosmopolitan Condition: Why Methodological Nationalism Fails. Theory, Culture & Society 24(7–8): 286–290. DOI: 10.1177/02632764070240072505


Class 3: Digital ethnography

Abidin, Crystal and Gabriele de Seta. 2020. Private Messages from the Field: Confessions on Digital Ethnography and its Discomforts. Journal of Digital Social Research 2(1): 1–19.

Ugoretz, Kaitlyn. 2021. Demystifying Remote Research in Anthropology and Area Studies. Asia Pacific Perspectives 17(1): 52–71.

Kraemer, Jordan. 2016. Doing Fieldwork, BRB: Locating the Field on and with Emerging Media. eFieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology in the Digital World, 113–131.

Additional readings

Burman, Jeremy Trevelyan. 2012. The Misunderstanding of Memes: Biography of an Unscientific Object, 1976–1999. Perspectives on Science 20(1): 75–104.

Leca, Radu. 2021. The Digital, The Local and The Mundane: Three Areas of Potential Change for Research on Asia. Asia Pacific Perspectives 17(1): 38–51.

Sharma, Sanjay. 2022. The Visual Anthropology of Migration Histories: Discovering the Mobility of Nepali Women through Visuals. Visual Anthropology 35(3): 248–271.


Class 4: Kuragraphy

Desjarlais, Robert. 2003. Kuragraphy. In Sensory Biographies: Lives and Deaths among Nepal’s Yolmo Buddhists. Pp. 1–19. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Rai, Janak. 2022. Doing Fursad Ethnography in Nepal: Reflections of a Public University Faculty. Studies in Nepali History and Society 27(1): 87–111.


Class 5: Language, letters, and songs

Ahearn, Laura M. 2003. Writing Desire in Nepali Love Letters. Language & Communication 23(2): 107–122.

Pradhan, Uma. 2022. Discomfort as a Method: Language, Education and Politics of Knowledge Production. Studies in Nepali History and Society 27(1): 113–130.

Sharma, Mahesh. 2019. Sending the Sons Away: Western Himalayan Songs of Women Alone at Home. European Bulletin of Himalayan Research 53: 35–69.

Additional readings

Roper, Michael. 2005. Slipping Out of View: Subjectivity and Emotion in Gender History. History Workshop Journal 59. doi:10.1093/hwj/dbi006


Class 6: Ethnographer at an archive

Des Chene, Mary. 1997. Locating the Past. In Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. Akhil Gupta and James Ferguson, eds., pp. 66–85. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Zeitlyn, David. 2012. Anthropology in and of the Archives: Possible Futures and Contingent Pasts. Archives as Anthropological Surrogates. Annual Review of Anthropology 41: 461–480. doi: 10.1146/annurev-anthro-092611-145721


Class 7: Ethics and emotions

Dickson-Swift, Virginia, Erica L. James, Sandra Kippen and Pranee Liamputtong. 2009. Researching Sensitive Topics: Qualitative Research as Emotion Work. Qualitative Research 9(1): 61–79. DOI: 10.1177/1468794108098031

Hanna, Esmée. 2019. The Emotional Labour of Researching Sensitive Topics Online: Considerations and Implications. Qualitative Research 19(5): 524–539.

Low, Kelvin E.Y. 2010. Researcher Positionalities, Moral Gatekeeping, and Knowledge Production: Some Thoughts on Doing Research on the Samsui Women in Singapore. In Makers and Keepers of Singapore History.Loh Kah Seng and Liew Kai Khiun, eds., pp. 232–241. Singapore: Singapore Heritage Society & Ethos Books.

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