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Understanding rural youth identities in India

Rural youth identities in India: Exploring intersections of nation, gender and technology in areas of civil unrest 

This research, led by Dr Gunjan Wadhwa, builds on her doctoral work “They are like that only”: Adivasi identities in an area of civil unrest in India, through the development of journal publications, new working papers, research presentations, book proposal, and further collaborative research with local community groups. The project is based at the Department of Education, Brunel University London, under the mentorship of Prof Maria Tsouroufli.

The new research aims to examine the work of digital technology in the construction of a homogenising national identity and how this positions rural Adivasi, Dalit and OBC youth in dominant discourses of the state and local village communities in areas of civil unrest in India. It explores how national identities are formed, sustained and resisted through digital media and use of technology and have a bearing on youth and gender identities in India. The project sets the stage for exploring how rural youth use digital media and technology to perform, contest and resist their national and gender identities and (re-)claim citizenship rights. Given the impetus for increased digitisation nationally and globally, this work will look at youth engagement with this medium, especially its creative, innovative and strategic use as a mode of resistance, through nuanced theorisation and articulation. 

The research project will support the creation of an early-career researcher collective, Diversity, Equity and Education Collective (DeCol). DeCol will be a network of international scholars, mostly PhDs, postdoctoral and early career researchers working on issues of education and development. It will aim to expand research and practice in education by inclusion of multi-disciplinary perspectives, creative and innovative approaches, and contextualized understandings of multiple lived realities and experiences in diverse international contexts. It will inform future research activities, teaching and collaborations in the field of education and emergent issues through an open research seminar series, a co-edited special issue, and a symposium for early career researchers.

DeCol will focus on the following themes:

  • Nation, gender, citizenship, and identities (religion, caste, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, location, language,)
  • Space, work, politics, and power
  • Youth, childhoods, community, and intergenerational ties
  • Land, forests, environment, and the Anthropocene
  • Agency, resistance, and social movements
  • Intersectionality and interculturality
  • ‘Alternative’ theories and critical approaches to doing research and knowledge production
  • Media and digital technologies
  • Creative and performance arts in knowledge production, exchange, and transfer
  • Social justice and inclusion

The project work will culminate into:

  • Open research seminar and workshop series (starting April 2021) o Interactive space to discuss topics of international education and related issues
  • Creative writing workshops (between May-December 2021): To write up data, publications, bids etc by adopting a feminist and creative approach
  • Blog series (starting May 2021): Sharing of reflections by PhDs and ECRs on DeCol’s themes
  • Public lectures (between September-December 2021) o Delivered by senior members of faculty working in the field of international education
  • One-day symposium (October/November 2021): Organised by PhDs and ECRs to share emergent research and build networks
  • Special issue/co-edited volume (CfP to go out July 2021): Compilation of research papers presented at the symposium
  • Performance arts workshops (between August-December 2021): Delivered by performance artistes to link academic and non-academic works
  • Several Podcasts, academic and community dialogues (to start May 2021): Series based on the talks, presentations, responses of the Collective

The project will run from 4th January 2021 to 3rd January 2022 with a funding of £107,973.



Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Related Research Group(s)

diversity (1)

Interculturality for Diversity and Global Learning - Challenging conventional attitudes and practices and promoting respectful and effective intercultural communication, cross-cultural intelligence, diversity and inclusion, within a world that is increasingly interconnected digitally.

Partnering with confidence

UKRI Research England

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 07/04/2021