Ankita Roy graduated in 2016 from Coventry University, obtaining a M.A in Applied Communication. Her dissertation titled ‘Rajbansi women in Bhawaiya songs: gender, power and social relations in North Bengal, India’ investigated gender, power and social relations of the Rajbansi women in North Bengal through Bhawaiya folk songs. The word ‘Bhawaiya’ meaning ‘emotions’ are folk songs of the Rajbansi community that speaks of the sentiments and life of the community. Cultural and Post feminism theories have been used to answer the research questions. Songs centered around a woman’s sentiments, wishes and resentments have been found in Bhawaiya. Keen on advancing her career and research on the Rajbansi’s, she enrolled for the research degree after graduating.
Ankita has started her PhD in Anthropology at Queen’s University, Belfast in September 2016. Her research is titled ‘Marriage and social life amongst three generations of Rajbansi women in North Bengal, India: A comparative ethnography of gender, power and historical change’.
My PhD project focuses on marriage, social life and power relations amongst three generations of Rajbansi women in North Bengal, India. There are no reliable historical records of the origin of Rajbansi’s. The districts in which the Rajbansi’s mostly lived were Rangpur, Cooch behar, Jalpaiguri, Dinajpur, Malda, Darjeeling in North Bengal,Purnea in Bihar and Goalpara in Assam, but about eighty nine percent of this caste population lived in just four districts i.e Dinajpur, Rangpur, Jalpaiguri and Cooch behar.
I will strive to provide new knowledge about Rajbansi social life through a comparison of gender, power and social relations and will focus my investigations on families in three districts in North Bengal, India . Taking a life history approach, the research will focus on gender and generational change through the exploration of the lives of three generations of Rajbansi women within fifteen families. The kinship relation structure that will be followed among the research participants will be mother in law, mother and daughter. I will be researching in two urban and one rural location. The chosen field sites are the three districts of North Bengal i.e Haldibari in Coochbehar district, Naxalbari in Darjeeling district and Maynaguri in Jalpaiguri district. I will be using qualitative methodology in my research and use autobiographical narrative interviews and ethnographical techniques (participant observation). I will also take into consideration the importance of narrative discourse, since anthropologists are also a part of story telling of their research participants.
As I am being constraint by funding and time limits, I plan to continue researching on the Rajbansi’s at mid career stage and expand my knowledge by studying about the Rajbansi’s living in Morang and Sunsari districts of Nepal and also Rangpur district of Bangladesh.