Workshop on Ethnographic Research Methods for Activists by Sambhaavnaa Institute [Offline; Oct 19-22]: Apply Now!

Sambhaavnaa Institute is organizing a workshop for activists called Perspectives: Ethnographic Research Methods for Activists from October 19 to 22.

Who is it for?

Are you a professional in an area that tries to make changes (for the better) in other people’s lives? Does your work get broadly described as a change agent or development practitioner or activist? 

Your work of making change and having an improvement in the current state of someone else’s life may require understanding these people’s perspectives on who they are, what role you may play in their lives, and what they think is their own location in the community and the larger world.

If these questions are relevant to the work you do, you would definitely benefit from a conversation with practitioners of sociocultural anthropology.

About Anthropology and its Peculiar Method

Sociocultural Anthropology was a key form of knowledge through which colonial rulers came to know about their native subjects in the colonies – especially people who were different from people in European countries.

Anthropology, thus, has struggled through the twentieth century, to come to terms with its methodology of ethnography.

What does it mean for a bunch of researchers (usually trained in privileged parts of the world) to go and study in deep intimacy – the lives of Others – the lives of people who usually live in relative deprivation or disadvantage?

The very practical choice of fieldsite and communities of ‘native’ subjects to be studied, was made possible by European imperial investment in societies of ‘difference’. Much of this travel into another’s life has changed in its pattern of execution and in its philosophy, across the twentieth century.

Ethnography is the method of talking, seeing, and documenting to establish a sense of other people’s lives – used by anthropologists. The notion of ‘difference’ is fundamental to this technique one that simultaneously moves away from the Us/Them divide.

Ethnography and anthropology go hand-in-hand, but there are possibilities for the usage of ethnographic methods outside of the disciplinary domain of anthropology.

Who are we? Who are these people in whose lives we seek to intervene? These questions come to the forefront of many of our lives – as policymakers, journalists, activists, and many other professions that operate outside of academia. The ethnographic lens can help in some of these endeavors.


This workshop conducted over four days (see detailed plan on the website, link below) aims at:

  • Day 1: Bring ethnographic research techniques to people outside the anthropological universe, especially those who work at the intersection of law, policy, and society. This requires engagement with some reading material on the first two days.
  • Day 2: Constructing research questions and visiting one’s ongoing, or currently planned research through the ethnographic lens. Bringing to the forefront, the elements of mutual dialogue, ethics, situational sensitivity and understanding in furthering the work of activists and practitioners.
  • Day 3: Bringing to the forefront, the elements of mutual dialogue, ethics, situational sensitivity and understanding in furthering the work of activists. Participants will write a short ethnography based on their future or ongoing research.
  • Day 4: Writing workshop.


  • The workshop explains what ethnographic research is and what kinds of things it can be useful for.
  • The first two sessions will introduce ethnography as a research technique of anthropology. It will unpack ‘a point of view about points of view’. This discussion will depend on unpacking some previously distributed reading material, that participants will have to come having read beforehand.
  • The final session focuses on a small writing assignment where each participant will share their work with the rest of the group.

About the Facilitator

Atreyee Majumder is an anthropologist. She earned her doctoral degree from Yale University (2014). She has been an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto (2016-18).

Her doctoral work culminated in her first book Time, Space, and Capital in India: Longing and Belonging in an Urban-Industrial Hinterland (Routledge, 2018). Drawing on her facility in Bengali and Hindi, her research examines questions related to urbanism, print cultures, and religion.

This empirical canvas allows her to engage in historically grounded theoretical inquiries – a kind of ear-to-the-ground philosophical practice – into the relationship between time and space, and more recently, inquiries of self and personhood.

Her current research agenda is located at the intersection of anthropology, theology, and the philosophy of religion, specifically concerned with the devotional practice of Bhakti. Ethnographic research for this project is being conducted in the sacred city of Vrindavan and its surround in northern India.

She has published widely in academic and popular venues including the South Asian Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, Religions, Economic and Political Weekly, 3AM magazine, India Today, Article 14, and LSE Review of Books.

She is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. She is a published poet and an amateur violinist.

Dates and Venue

October 19 to 22, 2022, Sambhaavnaa Institute, VPO – Kandbari, Tehsil – Palampur, District – Kangra, PIN 176061, Himachal Pradesh

Contribution towards Programs Costs 

  • Participants would contribute a number of INR 5000/- towards workshop expenses, inclusive of all on-site workshop costs: boarding, lodging, and all the materials used in the workshop.
  • Need-based partial waivers are available; we have a very limited number of partial waivers, so, please apply for a waiver only if you really need it.
  • Please do remember that there may be others who need it more than you.


English (with Hindi translation)

Contact Information

For any other info WhatsApp or call: 889 422 7954 (between 10 am to 5 pm), or e-mail:

Click here to apply for the Workshop