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My research is fueled by the conviction that knowledge helps undo stereotypes. If one understands the context and background of a given value ascription on another community, people, or group, it is possible to deconstruct negative and harmful processes of othering and marginalisation. Based on this premise, my research topics span across a wide arena of folk belief, urban legend, demonology, the supernatural and other than human entities. Over the past ten years, I have carried out fieldwork among the ethnic community of the Khasis and to an extent, on the Karbi community in North Eastern India. I begin with the understanding, that belief in the supernatural expresses itself in multiple folkloric manifestations. But the research process of documentation through fieldwork led to several questions related with the multiple articulations of belief. Accordingly, I made an attempt to analyse the storyworld of the Khasis, and it’s intersections with their social and religious reality.
My research presents a case study seen from the context of marginalisation, the indigenous heritage and conflicted intentions where belief becomes suggestive of a community’s need to come to terms with it’s own place alongside other ethnic identities. Also, various social mechanisms are employed toward a reconciliation with modernity and Christianity whilst retaining a sense of what it means to be Khasi. The outcome is a hybrid interaction between religion, society, and the supernatural realm in the everyday life which is not fixed, but which accommodates shifting belief and notions about the self and personhood. My research does not arrive at a homogenised, coherent conclusion about contemporary Khasi society; rather it looks at the multivalent nature of folk beliefs and narratives, and presents a non-linear, layered glimpse into the life ways of the community.
- Chomangkan: Death Ritual Among the Karbi, 2013
- 2012: Alternative Discourse of Belief: Folkloristic Perspectives (ETF9190)
- 2012: Folklore and Society: Tradition Memory, Creativity, Applications (SF0180139s08)
- 2013-2018: Tradition, Creativity and Society: Minorities and Alternative Discourses (IUT2-43)
- 2018-2021: Tradition and Vernacular Discourses in the Context of Local Christianities in Northeastern India (PUTJD746)