Anthropology Department

Jaipur, India

Union students in India

Anthropology Term Abroad in Jaipur, India – Winter Term 2017

Jaipur, India

In January 2017, Union College is planning to offer a faculty-led anthropology term abroad in India…the most diverse, complex and vibrant democracy. The term will be open to students of all majors, and will introduce them to the process of doing anthropological research, and the cultures of North Indian state of Rajasthan. This will also provide students hands-on experience in local NGOs, schools and community-based development projects. Students will get three anthropology credits in India (Foundation Hindi course, Contemporary India & Its Development Challenges, and Ethnographic Research).

The term abroad is designed as a 10 week Intensive Program, based in Jaipur, Rajasthan. This will introduce students to the process of doing anthropological research, as well as giving them hands-on experience in local NGOs, schools and community-based development projects. The program interweaves information and field research experience so that what the students learn in class helps them understand more deeply what they experience beyond the classroom and their experiences in the community help fill-out and deepen their understanding of doing ethnographic research. The program provides an intense exploration and experiential learning opportunity, focused on the rich cultural heritage of the greater Jaipur region of India.

After the group arrival in India, as soon as the Orientation phase in Delhi and Jaipur is over, the home stay experience will begin and will continue almost throughout the entire program period. Having students stay with families is an important experience for them and is the best way to get a real understanding of Indian life and culture.

The Ethnographic Research placement with NGOs will introduce students to the process of doing anthropological research, as well as giving students hands-on experience in local NGOs, schools and community-based development projects. Students will carry out structured exercises designed to help them understand local culture and the organizations related to the longer project that will be the focus of their research. These longer projects are chosen by students and involve working under the guidance of their faculty and local NGO partner to research a specific topic. Internships will be organized to facilitate student research and student projects are designed so that we all learn from each other’s experiences. Potential projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Microcredit
  • Solar electrification
  • Gender issues and women empowerment
  • Air and water pollution
  • Community health care
  • Education
  • Family planning
  • Animal husbandry
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Community natural resource management
  • Human rights in development practice
  • Child labor
  • Panchayati Raj– the Indian model of local self government

Under the guidance of faculty and local resource persons, the students will be able to identify their topic of interest and also to choose the best suited NGO, school or community based project for their ethnographic research.

Excursions 

The Taj Mahal, lake resort town of Udaipur, hiking in the Himalayas, a camel safari, and the beautiful beaches and backwaters of Kerala.

About India

India’s astounding diversity of religions, languages, and cultures is unique and unparalleled. The society of vast subcontinent, varied and complex in its rich heritage, is among the oldest in the world. Five thousand years of history have nourished the growth of a great civilization, vitalized through cross-cultural contact and characterized by unity in diversity of culture, race, caste, religion, and language. In India there are examples of virtually every known type of societal division; six major religions- Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism; two major language families- Aryan and Dravidian, with 18 official languages and innumerable dialects and tribal languages; three racial strains- Aryan, Dravidian, and Proto-Australoid ; and over 4000 castes, hierarchically ranked, endogamous, and occupational. The great Indian tradition unites the diverse cultural regions, but within its elastic framework are a myriad of sects and local traditions. Perhaps by more than anything else, traditional India has been characterized by localism, a fragmentation not simply of cultural-linguistic regions but of villages themselves. Culturally diverse and complex, with mainly rural, traditional, and agrarian population, India now is also a major industrial power experiencing rapid urban growth and rural-urban migration.

It is a nation undergoing significant political, economic, and social change, while at the same time struggling to maintain many of its traditions and customs. India today is unfolding a story of a billion plus people, or more precisely, one sixth of the world’s population, on a big move as India’s large and complex systems rapidly moving top-down and the country emerge as one of the fastest growing economies of the world. The shadows of a vibrant consumer society are taking shapes and urban population is exposed to massive change in life style, consumption habits, and cultural conditioning. These are certainly the times of doubts and chaos as what is on the big move is not merely an economy but also a society that represents one of the most ancient civilizations of the world. India is not simply the largest democracy in the world; majority of its population is of young people with ever growing aspirations.  In her 5000 years of history, Indians never failed in creating a definite order in the psychic vibrations of their younger generations and the generations to come, but now in an era of Globalization and rapid economic growth, what course the history takes remains to be unfolded.