Meet our 2022-23 South Asia Working Group (SAWG) at Stanford Fellow, Paras Arora!
What do you want people to know about you?
My name is Paras Arora, and I am going to be a second-year Ph.D. student at Stanford Anthropology during the academic year 2022-23. I am a socio-cultural and medical anthropologist in the making, currently working with autistic adults and their familial and professional caregivers in India. While autistic individuals’ overt reliance upon their families for life-sustaining support has often been conceptualized as being on the verge of violence and abandonment, my ethnographic work in Delhi traces how life across the spectrum is shared amongst a network of relations, where vulnerability, violence, and pain are mediated not only by disability but also by gender, age, caste, and position in kinship. Through my research, then, I wish to develop a culturally attuned understanding of autism as a shared affliction, family as a political institution, and care as an ethical practice. Most recently, I have been working on a series of ethnographic drawings on siblinghood that explore the ways in which disability and queerness are shared existential orientations. Before joining Stanford Anthropology last year, I secured an M.A. degree in Anthropology & Sociology from the Graduate Institute of International & Development Studies, Geneva, where I was a Hans Wilsdorf and FERIS scholar. From my undergraduate training, I received a B.A. degree with Honours in Political Science from Hindu College, University of Delhi.
What made you want to join SAWG? What made you want to become a coordinator?
Last year, the community building efforts spearheaded by SAWG under the co-leadership of Shubhangni Gupta and Shantanu Nevrekar made me feel welcomed, heard, and affirmed when I was still looking for a graduate student led community. After having greatly benefited from the CSA and SAWG’s warmth for over a year, then, I look forward to taking up the responsibility of coordinating the working group. Luckily, Shubhangni will continue her role as the co-coordinator alongside me during the upcoming academic year. I am excited about envisioning newer events and collaborations in close dialogue with her.
What are you interested in accomplishing with SAWG?
There are a few things that I hope to accomplish through SAWG. I am definitely focused on ensuring that SAWG facilitates a robust and accessible environment for the intellectual exchange of young South Asianists at Stanford. Since a lot of our advanced graduate students are not always on campus, we will be conducting all of our events over zoom. Archival research and ethnographic fieldwork are often isolating experiences, and SAWG could possibly bridge the gap between fieldwork and coursework by organizing graduate student forums between early and advanced graduate students. Another goal of SAWG is going to be the provision of a platform for early career researchers from South Asia to get an engaged audience to discuss their currently unfinished work with. Finally, I look forward to holding conversations that might otherwise be too difficult to sustain in our current disciplinary formations through SAWG, like conversations around alternative methodologies and diverse career trajectories. Under my co-leadership, it is my hope that SAWG continues to provide a sense of community and security in a research context that might otherwise be too uncertain and precarious.
Are you a Stanford student and are interested in becoming a SAWG fellow? Email Lalita du Perron, lalita [at] stanford.edu, to express interest and learn more about the role.