Fellows 2014-2015

In April 2014, the Brandeis-India Initiative selected eleven new fellows to represent Brandeis in India during summer 2014 and academic year 2014-15. Below you will find a list of the Fellows and a description of each of their projects:

Graduate Fellows 2014-2015

Jessica Bray
Master’s Student in Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies

Jessica’s research is an investigation of the transition that India is going through as activists respond to the re-criminalization of “unnatural sexual acts” under IPC Section 377. Jessica is interested in exploring how this transition is affecting everyday queer lives, since Section 377 has increased police harassment and arrest. In particular she is interested in how queer communities continue to resist Section 377 through informal resistances in everyday actions, changes in social lives, and in formal resistances like protests. Along these lines, Jessica continues to explore the changes for queer communities in India specifically through the effects of Section 377 on everyday life.

Cameron Campbell
Master’s Student in Sustainable Development

Cameron is currently undertaking his practicum as a second-year Heller student in New Delhi and Bihar, India. Cameron will be working with Husk Power Systems, through the Frontier Market Scouts Program, run by the Monterey Institute of International Studies. While in India, Cameron will be focusing on rural electrification social enterprises aiming to provide power to rural villages in Bihar through sustainable methods.

Paige Henderson
Master’s Student in Anthropology

Paige’s current project in Hyderabad and Bangalore, India is tentatively titled “Cyberstalking in India: Violence, Vulnerability, and the Self in the Information Age.” As global news reports about women’s safety and sexual violence in India have increased recently, this project will investigate new aspects of this issue from a more nuanced understanding of how it affects the everyday lives of Indian women. This project also explores the changing role of technology in daily life in a modernizing India; how is it used, how prevalent is it, how it affects social relationships, etc. as well as how these technologies are subjectively perceived.

Sydney Skov
Master’s Student in Sustainable International Development

Sydney currently keeps a regular blog about human trafficking and the use of dance and the arts as an important tool in rehabilitation, resilience, and development. She is also engaged with the monitoring and evaluation scheme of Kolkata Sanved, the non-profit she is working with, which uses Dance Movement Therapy as psycho-social rehabilitation for survivors of human trafficking and violence. Sydney hopes to use this experience to better grasp how to monitor programs utilizing the arts for change.

Undergraduate Fellows 2014-2015

Vasavi Nigam
Class of ’16

Vasavi is currently working on a project entitled “Project M.P.U. (Mukti.Pragati.Udaan- Liberation.Progress.Flight.).” With a passion for dance and a desire to make a difference in the lives of as many young women as possible with the use of the dance medium, Vasavi came up with the original idea of this project. Dance in many ways is therapeutic and with the right guidance has multiple times proven to be successful with issues of empowerment and trauma. Her proposal was to organize a dance workshop for the girls at the Nirmal Chhaaya home, Delhi’s largest girl’s shelter under the administration of the Indian government. She plans to incorporate various teaching and dance techniques, as well as several team building/skill building activities in addition to the overall workshop.

Avinash Singh
Class of ’15

Avinash’s work examines the multiple intersections of religious and political identity in the emergent moment of Indian nationalism. India’s independence in 1947 was accompanied by the bloody partition of the country into India and Pakistan. The state of Punjab, with a majority Sikh population, bore the brunt of this division. While the Sikhs remained mostly on the sidelines of the Indian nationalist movement dominated by the Congress Party and the Muslim League, it was their state which lay at the center of the impending division. In this way, Avinash’s work contributes to larger questions of secular state policies as envisioned through diverse religious, ethnic, linguistic, and political categories.

Teleah Slater
Class of ’16

Teleah is currently working with the Dove Foundation in India, focusing on HIV/AIDS education and prevention internationally. Her work involves campaigning for health and sex education as well as helping to improve existing programs that target at risk youth, women, and bicycle rickshaw pullers in Arambh. The Dove Foundation works specifically with bicycle rickshaw pullers due to their marginalized positions, which make their communities particularly susceptible to the spread of HIV.

Sara Taylor
Class of ’16

Sara is currently doing a study abroad program with University of Minnesota in Bangalore for the academic year. For the first few months she will be in the classroom, learning about the history of development in the area, Hindi, and environmental issues facing the city. Come November, Sara will be entering into a research project with a non-governmental organization, most likely a non-profit. She has requested to work for a sustainable agriculture initiative where she can take field notes for anthropological research while furthering her knowledge in Environmental Studies.

James Weiss
Class of ’16

James will be doing laboratory and scientific research while studying abroad at the India Institute of Science through the Brandeis India Science Scholars Program. James was also recently accepted to Dr. Vatala Thirumalai’s Neurobiology Lab at the National Center for Biological Sciences. She previously worked in Dr. Eve Marder’s lab at Brandeis, where James currently works.

Shane Weitzman
Class of ’16

Shane is currently interning with the Deshpande Foundation’s Koutilya Fellowship, a five-month, intensive program for aspiring accountants with educational backgrounds in commerce. His description is as follows: “I am holding in tension a fundamentally Eurocentric transnational finance system with individual stories of Indian students “wanting a better life.” Because most of my time this summer has been spent teaching English lessons, I’m grappling with the complexities of using English as a tool to increase opportunities. By spreading English, I, in some ways, am perpetuating a system that is not only grossly unfair, but also largely responsible for huge wealth and accessibility gaps on a global scale. I can’t solve this problem this summer, but I would like to share something that, to me, is of critical importance: India is not a state filled with victimhood.”

Katherine Zheng
Class of ’15

Katherine’s research is on tourism in Pune, Maharastra. She is currently working with a local bus tour, the Pune Darshan Bus tour, to interview their managers, tour guides, site owners, and tourists to assess how local heritage and history are preserved and promoted in developing India. Her final report will go towards improving the tour service for the future.