CALL FOR PROPOSALS – SARAI-CSDS INDEPENDENT FELLOWSHIPS, 2007
Applications are invited for the upcoming cycle of Sarai-CSDS
Independent Research Fellowships.
The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
Sarai is a programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
(CSDS), Delhi. CSDS is one of India's best known research centres, with
traditions of dissent and a commitment to the work of the public
intellectual going back four decades. The Sarai Programme at CSDS was
initiated in 2000 as a platform for discursive and creative
collaboration between theorists, researchers and practitioners actively
engaged in reflecting on contemporary urban spaces in South Asia—their
politics, built form, ecology, culture and history—as well as on the
histories, practices and politics of information and communication
technologies, the public domain and media forms.
For more information, visit www.sarai.net
*The Purpose of the Independent Fellowship*
The Sarai-CSDS Independent Fellowships allow the time for individuals
from diverse backgrounds to either begin or continue research into
specific aspects of media and urban culture and society, broadly and
creatively defined, and to also think carefully and rigorously about the
various public forms in which their research might be rendered. We are
also interested in using the materials generated through the research to
continue to build up our thematic archive of research on the city. Thus,
we see the fellowship as an important source for this archive. Finally,
an important purpose of the fellowship program is to spark, overlap and
allow access to newly emerging research networks across disciplines,
academic and non-academic institutions, organisations, practices,
geographical locations and professional backgrounds.
We are thus invested in the idea of what we call public and distributed
research, where new knowledge is created and shaped from a variety of
locations, and not just in a top-down fashion. Participants in the
fellowship programme are expected to have a very strong and independent
motivation towards the pursuit of their own specialised areas of
research, but also to respond to and critique the research of others in
the programme as intelligent non-specialists, and be open to suggestions
and comments from non-specialists.
Each year, a large number of the fellowships are awarded to projects
that deploy standard methodologies and forms from the humanities and
social sciences towards what we feel are justly deserving, new and
emergent areas of research. We would like to not lose sight of these
tried and tested methodologies in the humanities and social sciences,
and will place a special emphasis on them this year. However, a
significant number of fellowships are also awarded to projects that are
innovative both in terms of what they consider to be research, as well
as the variety of purposes and forms to which that research is applied.
As a result, we encourage the inclusion of individuals with little or no
previous formal research experience who want to pursue, more rigorously,
a passion for a tightly-focused, feasible, understudied research topic;
and equally, we encourage individuals with seasoned research experience
in a conventional context to experiment with forms that are relatively
new to them.
For detailed abstracts of successful proposals from previous years,
please visit www.sarai.net and click on the link for "Independent
Fellowships" on the left-hand sidebar.
--For administrative purposes, applicants are required to be resident in
India, and to have an account in any bank operating in India.
--Applications can be in Hindi or in English. The research work and
presentation can also be in either Hindi, English, or a combination of
the two languages.
*Please note that this year the schedule for the Independent Fellows
programme has changed.*
--The research fellowship will run from March 2007 to the end of October
2007, with a final workshop that all fellows are expected to attend. It
will award up to Rs 70,000 during this period.
--Fellows will be required to make a minimum of six postings, one per
month, on Sarai's "reader-list" email listserve, between February and
the end of August 2007.
--A working draft or initial prototype of the final work will be
expected by the end of September. The final presentation of the research
project will be made in Delhi at the beginning of November 2007.
--The fellowships do not require the fellows to be resident at Sarai.
--Although participation in the fellowship programme does require a
substantial time commitment—to the research, the postings on progress,
and interaction with other researchers and projects in the fellowship
cycle—participants are also welcome to pursue the fellowship research in
addition to their primary occupations or commitments to other
fellowships or grants, if any.
--Proposals from teams, partnerships, collectives and faculty are
welcome, as long as the grant amount is administered by and through a
single individual, and the funds are deposited in a single bank account
in the name of an individual, partnership, registered body or
--Applicants who apply to other institutions for support for the same
project will not be disqualified, provided they inform Sarai if and when
support is being sought (or has been obtained) from another institution.
The applicants should also inform Sarai about the identity of the other
*What Do You Need To Send, Where and When?*
There are no application forms. Simply send us by postal mail your:
1. Name(s), email address(es), phone(s), and postal address(es).
2. Proposal (not more than 1200 words) including details of the subject,
process, mode of public presentation and rationale for the research.
Your proposal will be greatly strengthened if you are also able to
indicate the kinds of materials that you think your research project
would be able to generate for the Sarai archive. In the past, fellows
have submitted transcripts of interviews, photographs, recordings,
printed matter, maps, multimedia and posters, related to the subject of
their study, to this archive.
3. Two work samples: if possible, the samples of previous work done
should give us a sense of your preferred mode of public presentation for
this project (e.g., academic research paper, narrative prose,
multimedia, video, performance, photography, installation, sound
recording, "creative" writing, prototype design, combinations of the
above, etc.) and also suggest to us how you might understand your
upcoming research process for this fellowship. The work samples can—but
do not necessarily have to—make reference to the current research topic.
4. A clear work plan (not more than one page) with, if possible, a
month-by-month breakdown of the research work.
5. An updated CV (not more than two pages) for each applicant, and a
short text (about half a page) giving us your intellectual biography.
--Send these to: ATTN: I-FELLOWS PROPOSAL 2005-2006, Independent
Fellowship Programme, Sarai, Centre for the Study of Developing
Societies, 29 Rajpur Road, Delhi 110054, India.
--Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org for English proposals, email@example.com
for Hindi proposals.
--Last date for submission: English proposals should be postmarked on or
before Tuesday, October 31, 2006; Hindi proposals should be postmarked
on or before Monday, November 13, 2006.
--The list of successful proposals for 2007 will be announced on the
Sarai website, and on Sarai's email list, firstname.lastname@example.org, between
the end of December 2006 and the beginning January 2007. For more
details on joining the reader-list, please visit www.sarai.net and click
*Who Can Apply? *
There is absolutely no pre-qualification required for application to the
Sarai-CSDS Independent Fellowship. Sarai invites independent
researchers, media practitioners, working professionals, software
designers and programmers, urbanists, architects, artists and writers,
as well as students (postgraduate level and above) and
university/college faculty to apply for support for research-driven
*What Other Fellowships Does Sarai Offer?*
Sarai offers an exciting "Student Stipendship" for students at academic
institutions wishing to pursue closely mentored and innovative research
(contact: Sadan Jha, email@example.com) and a "FLOSS Independent
Fellowship" for programmers and coders wishing to develop free and open
source software (contact: Gora Mohanty, firstname.lastname@example.org). Please note
that the Sarai Media Fellowships have been discontinued.
*Why Research? What Do We Mean by Research? *
Sarai is committed to generating public knowledge and creativity through
research. Hence the support for research driven projects and processes.
The fellowships are in the nature of small grants in order to emphasise
the initiation and founding of projects that would otherwise go unsupported.
By research we mean both archival and field research, and forays into
theoretical work as well as any process or activity of an experimental
or creative nature—for instance in the audiovisual media, as well as in
journalism or the humanities and social sciences, or in architecture and
socially attuned computing.
We are especially interested in supporting projects that formulate
precise and cogent intellectual questions, reflect on modes of
understanding that implicate knowledge production within a critical
social framework, foregrounding processes of gathering information and
of creating links between bodies of information. We also encourage
research that is based on a strong engagement with archival materials
and imaginative ways of tackling the question of the public rendition of
*The Experience of Previous Years*
This is the sixth year in which Sarai is calling for proposals for such
fellowships. We would like to describe how the process has worked in
previous years, as an indication of what applicants should expect.
These included work toward projects based on investigative reportage of
urban issues; essays on everyday life; a history of urban Dalit
performance traditions; soundscapes of the city; a graphic novel about
Delhi; a documentation of the free software movement in India; research
on displacement and rehabilitation in cities; interpretative catalogues
of wall writings and public signages; digital manipulation of popular
studio portrait photographs; the limitations of language in shrinking
public spaces in Srinagar; histories of cinema halls and studios in
Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata; a study of the world of popular crime fiction
in Bengali; reflections on the Kashmiri 'encounter' in Delhi, and many
others. Successful applicants included freelance researchers, academics,
media practitioners, artists, writers, journalists, activists and
professionals such as nurses and bankers.
The projects were submitted in English, Hindi or a combination of the
two languages. We have seen that projects that set important but
practical and modest goals were usually successful, whereas those that
may have been conceptually sound but lacked sufficient motivation to
actually pursue a research objective on the field, usually did not take
off beyond the interim stage.
Sarai interacts closely with the researchers over the period of the
fellowship, and the independent fellows make a public presentation of
their work at Sarai at the end of their fellowship period. During the
term of their fellowship each fellow is required to make a posting to
our email list every month, reporting on the development of their work.
These postings, which are archived, are an important means by which the
research process reaches a wider discursive community. They also help us
to trace the progress of work during the grant period, and understand
how the research interfaces with a larger public.
Submissions at the end of the fellowship period included written reports
and essays, photographs, tape recordings, audio CDs, video, pamphlets,
maps, drawings and html presentations. Fellows have made their final
presentations in the form of academic papers, lecture-demonstrations and
*What Happens to the Research Projects?*
The annual research projects add to our increasingly substantial
archival collections on urban space and media culture. These are proving
to be very significant value additions to the availability of knowledge
resources in the public domain. Researchers are free to publish or
render any part or all of their projects in any forms, independently of
Sarai (but with due acknowledgment of the support that they have
received from Sarai). Sarai Independent Research Fellows have gone on to
publish articles in journals, work towards the making of films,
exhibitions, websites, multimedia works and performances, and the
creation of graphic novels, soundworks and books. We actively encourage
all such efforts.
*What We Are Looking For*
As in the past, this year too we are looking for proposals that are
imaginatively articulated, experimental and methodologically innovative,
but which are pragmatic and backed up by a well-argued work plan which
sets out a timetable for the project, as well as suggests how the
support will help with specific resources (human and material) that the
Sarai's interests lie in the city and in media. Broadly speaking, any
proposal that looks at the urban condition, or at media, is eligible.
Proposals for projects that seek to push disciplinary limits and
boundaries or break new ground, that offer fresh and detailed empricial
insights, that desire to engage with questions and problems pertaining
to cities, urban culture, media from a philosophically and conceptually
enriched terrain of inquiry are especially welcome. We are committed to
methodological and analytic rigour even as we are also keen to engage
with sensibilities and registers of thought that are oppositional,
dissident, heretical, imaginative and poetic.
More specifically, themes may be as diverse as the experience of work in
different locations, institutions and work cultures, histories of urban
sexuality, heretical figures and imaginations, histories of particular
media practices, legality and illegality, migration, transportation,
surveillance, intellectual property, social/digital interfaces, urban
violence, street life, technologies of urban control, health and the
city, the political economy of media forms, digital art and culture, or
anything else that the applicants feel will resonate with the philosophy
and interests that motivate Sarai's work.
We are particularly interested in work that comes from non-metropolitan
and mofussil urban spaces, even though we continue to look for strong
projects that articulate the realities of major cities.
Sarai: The New Media Initiative
Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
29 Rajpur Road
Delhi 110 054