Enid Still

 

Host Institute

University of Passau

Enid Still photo Topic Landscapes of history in Tamil Nadu: a study of colonial continuities in agricultural relations.

Supervisors

Martina Padmanbhan

Secondment 1 Freie Universität Berlin

Mentor

Gülay Caglar

Secondment 2 Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management

Mentor

Seema Kulkarni

Fieldwork

 

 

India

After a BA at Glasgow Caledonian University, Enid Still spent several years working in arts management in the UK and India, before completing an MSc in Social Anthropology at Oxford University.

As a research scholar at Savitribai Phule Pune University, in India, she became involved in advocacy research, developing an interest in political ecology and anthropological critique of development and growth. This new chapter with WEGO offers an exciting opportunity to build upon these experiences and to contribute to the emerging field of FPE, exploring how community economies, agro-biodiversity and a sense of belonging are negotiated in Tamil Nadu.

Objectives of the research

The mega-city Chennai has seen the development of a food counterculture visible in organic shops and food cooperatives. The ESR will aim to understand the evolving rural-urban linkages creating new human-nature relations from a FPE lens. The ESR will map out the new value chains and their political and ecological consequences of these value chains. It will look at the intersection of these food chains with notions of caste, gender, religion and age. As urban transition pioneers organise and reach out to farmers as rural producers, the question arises on the nature of this relation and the role of biodiversity in agricultural products. It will have an analytical focus on the effects of countercultures on agrobiodiversity investigating the negotiations at the interface over meanings of agrobiodiversity. The research will examine how people (re)connect to the land feeding them and investigates how much this movement is an elite, high caste mode of distinction or whether it opens up democratic space for a creative food movement.

Expected Results

The research aims at discovering counter narratives to food supplies, mapping out the interaction between urban activists and rural producers providing new knowledge about changing human-nature relations.

Progress update

In September 2018, Enid joined the Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies at Passau University in Germany, as a WEGO scholar. In the first year, she attended the Advanced Seminar for Social Science Research Methodology and further developed her research proposal. Working closely with WEGO colleague Siti Maimunah on the debates and issues of ethics in social science research, they attended the workshop ‘How do we ‘know’ the world?’at EADI in Bonn, in January 2019. Representing WEGO, they discussed their research proposals, ethical considerations and the relevance of FPE in their work as well as its relationship with decolonial feminisms. Through this workshop they published a blog and joined the writing collective that emerged. With this collective and another participant they wrote a paper on the ethics of ‘doing fieldwork’ in the Global South, due to be published in Acta Academia in summer 2020. In April, Enid presented a paper at DGA Conference 2019 in Würzburg, where she presented her conceptual background. A revised version of this paper will be published as part of a special issue in ASIEN later in 2020. In August 2019, Enid attended the Oslo Summer School in FPE where she presented and discussed her literature review, which included a historical contextualisation of her project and her approach to FPE. This helped to finalise her research proposal, which she presented to her colleagues at the Chair in Passau at the end of August 2019.

In late September 2019, she presented a paper at RC21 Delhi conference where she discussed the possibilities of feminist methodologies in understanding alternative food networks and complicating the rural/urban binaries that characterise much urban anthropology and sociology. She published a reflective blog piece about this on the WEGO website. From October to December 2019, Enid undertook her secondment with SOPPECOM in Pune, India, under the mentorship of Seema Kulkarni. Here she was introduced to the intersecting issues of gender, caste and land in India through taking part in ongoing workshops and advocacy efforts of SOPPECOM. This helped her to further finalise her proposal and methodologies. Through SOPPECOM, Enid was introduced to MAKAAM– a national network of women farmers, members of which have been pivotal in supporting Enid’s fieldwork in Tamil Nadu. In January 2020, Enid began her first phase of fieldwork in Tamil Nadu, India. She also worked in collaboration with Prof. Sudhir Chella Rajan at the department of Humanities and Social Science at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. As part of the research team at the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS), she gave a seminar at their winter school programme reflecting on and discussing feminist and decolonial approaches to ethics in the field.

Enid’s first phase of fieldwork was supposed to conclude by May 2020, but this was unfortunately cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She has since been working on writing projectswith WEGO colleague Irene Leonardelli and other collaborators; finalising her contribution for the ASIEN special issue; reworking her research design with the support of WEGO mentor Andrea Nightingale; and preparing for the upcoming WEGO training lab in June. Work on coding and analysing the data from her partially complete first phase of fieldwork will begin in July. Currently, she is rethinking her project in terms of historical and theoretical methodological lenses.

Blogs by Enid Still

mapping food knowledge and care
We are running behind the farmers: mapping food, knowledge and care in Chennai, the peri-urban and beyond
In the city of Chennai, Restore, an established non-profit organic food store, has been working closely with and for farmers ...
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mapping food knowledge and care in the peri-urban
‘We are running behind the farmers‘. Mapping food, knowledge and care in Chennai, the peri-urban and beyond
In the city of Chennai, Restore, an established non-profit organic food store, has been working closely with and for farmers ...
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A pandemic of blindness: uneven experiences of rural communities under COVID-19 lockdown in India – Part II
In part II of our series on the uneven experiences and everyday challenges of lockdown conditions in India, activist-researchers Seema ...
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A pandemic of blindness: uneven experiences of rural communities under COVID-19 lockdown in India – Part I
A two part series on the uneven experiences and everyday challenges of lockdown conditions in India. Reflections and insights from ...
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Inhabiting conflicting spaces: reflections around RC21, Delhi
Taking the short taxi ride from my Airbnb apartment in Jangpura to the Indian Habitat Centre on Lodhdi Road, watching ...
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How Do We Know The World Series: Knowing The World? Navigating Asymmetries of Power through a Politics and Praxis of Care
“How do we know the world?” It is a difficult and multi-layered question. Yet it enticed us, two colleagues, women ...
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Enid Still on secondment in Pune, India
I have been on secondment at SOPPECOM in Pune, Maharashtra since the 30th of September 2019. The secondment has formed ...
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