Over recent weeks, I was repeatedly challenged to think through the practical contexts of my research, and how I engage with them. I have been invited to an evaluation of Muslim Indians' socio-economic standing and citizenship rights a decade after the Sachar report. I continue to collaborate with activists, journalists and other academics through Data{Meet}. And I have been applying for faculty jobs, many of which now ask for a statement on "policy relevance" or "impact" (especially in the UK, for obvious reasons). Frankly, these are not exactly the terms in which I usually frame my work - so I decided to write up my discomfort with them, in an attempt to clarify my own stance. Comments welcome...

Once I began to think about it more explicitly, I realized that my discomfort surely does not stem from lack of familiarity. My first work experience was with the local grassroots NGO CARAVAN in Pakistan. There, I was very much on the receiving end of advice, and the experience primarily left quite an impact on me. Next came an internship with Germany's largest donor organization, Misereor, for whom I drafted the policy on religion in conflict. This was very much a collaborative endeavour, though it ultimately led nowhere (it wasn't such a smart idea to let an intern tackle an issue so close to the institution's self-understanding, I guess). Last but not least, I worked for the German embassy in Bangladesh just before the country returned to free elections after two years of technocratic rule. In this position, I was asked to liberally disseminate "advice" to all kinds of stakeholders (close to the point of unduly intervening in domestic affairs).