I am currently enrolled in a doctoral program at the Department of Humanities and Social Science in the Indian Institute of Technology – Gandhinagar, Gujarat where I research on older adults and their everyday leisure time-use. Being trained as an anthropologist, my research started as a qualitative endeavor which then translated to secondary data analysis of time-use statistics due to the Covid-19 pandemic (that specifically made older adults increasingly vulnerable). Overall, my work lies at a riveting intersection of population aging, the emergence of new-middle-class and expanding consumerism in the Indian subcontinent. In fact, the everyday blurring of productive and unproductive activities (both labor and leisure) allows me to not only study the changing process of aging but the broader social inequality that exists within households and the society, in general (by studying their time-allocation patterns). Recently, as a visiting scholar (Newton-Bhabha fellow) at the University of Warwick, I started examining the intimate economies of care using the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) dataset where I study the time spent on care(ing) work provided my older adults to other family members within households and its association with their overall wellbeing.
What made you interested in the study of aging and/or the life course?
I vividly remember my frequent visits to the Indian community center in Belfast (Queen’s University), where I was pursuing my graduate studies in Anthropology (2016). Being an international student in the UK, the community center provided some sense of belongingness ~ with Indian food, celebrations and meeting people from my homeland. I soon knew I want to do something around this place and its people (Indian immigrants) for my master’s thesis research. Organically, as I became close to people, they shared their stories of distant kinship, (virtual) care and aging in a foreign land. Their distinctive experiences of moving away and settling in the UK around 1960-70s got me interested in the Anthropology of Aging and Care among the Indian immigrants in Belfast. I am grateful to all the older adults who keenly participated in my research and also got me interested in the broader study of older adults, ageing and care.
What is an article, book, or other work that has made an impact on how you think about aging and your research?
One of the first scholars I read in aging studies was Loretta Baldassar. Her book with Laura Merla on Transnational families, migration and the circulation of care: Understanding mobility and absence in family life (2013) was a crucial guide while completing my master’s thesis. On deciding to continue my work in the area of Anthropology of Aging, I read Bianca Brijnath’s Unforgotten: Love and the culture of dementia care in India (2014), Sarah Lamb’s White Saris and sweet mangoes: Aging, gender, and body in North India (2000) and Hochschild’s Global care chains and emotional surplus value (2000). Even during my PhD research, I go back to these readings whenever required. At the same time, for a more general overview, I always refer to Jay Sokolovsky’s The Cultural Context of Aging: Worldwide Perspectives (2009).
What do you do when you are not doing aging/life course research?
Being a last year Ph.D. student, procrastination has become my second job. So, while I procrastinate, I enjoy cleaning, sorting and arranging my work desk, laptop and folders (withs numerous pdfs); more often than needed. Nevertheless, I enjoy baking and exercising ~ which act very de-stressing activities. I still continue to spend considerable amount of my time in nature, away from my desk!
Do you have a recent publication so that our members can learn more about your work?
I wrote an opinion piece (with my advisor) on the recently released time-use data in India and what it holds for the future of studying older adults and their free-time. The piece, entitled “Instead of a guilty pleasure, Indians should see leisure as a form of resistance,” can be read at this link: https://scroll.in/article/984799/instead-of-a-guilty-pleasure-indians-should-see-leisure-as-a-form-of-resistance.
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