Two weeks ago, the calendar turned 2012 - and I turned back to work. One of the highlights among last year's many little amusements was a typo in a belated email I received from a very distinguished professor - who excused himself by blaming the delay on his having been "busy with odd thinks [sic]". On second thought: what a superb metaphor for a true scholar's quest! Being involved with thought processes at once eclective, assorted - and slightly weird...

Thus "being busy with odd thinks" soon turned into one of my favourite explanations for what fieldwork might be all about. Many of my own thoughts about Lucknow, Muslims and belonging in 2011, for example, were clearly odd - so much so that even I myself did rarely understand them. At the same time, some of these thoughts brought me seriously at odds with my surroundings and led me to cross horns with established wisdom (a move elegantly demonstrated by the two anthropological goats in today's picture). Last year's concluding post, for instance, in which I insinuated that the famed Tehzeeb of Lucknow might actually denote little more than a singularly hollow nothingness, did not go down well with everybody here...

This post concludes the sober series of introductions to my PhD project. One important question remained unanswered so far: why Lucknow? It has many answers, two of which I shall give today.

Apart from this post on my fieldsite, there are:
An introductory post to my topic
A post on my conceptual framework
Finally a post on my methodological approach

To continue the series on my PhD project, today's post sketches my methodological plans. Like all research plans in decent disciplines, this one is bound to be changed. Indeed, this post might well turn out as a reminder of what I thought at my naive beginnings, very much like today's picture, which shows me - naively - in Jaipur three years ago, starting my first fieldwork ever...

Apart from this post on my methodology, there are:
An introductory post to my topic
A post on my conceptual framework
Finally a post on why I chose Lucknow as a fieldsite

What I thought so far is to explore the two sets of questions guiding my research - about discourses of belonging and their navigation through individual persons - in three major steps. Each step is distinct in its goals, methods of data collection, logic of inquiry, sampling strategy, and writing schedule. The first phase concentrates on participant and non-participant observation and network mapping to sketch the discursive landscape of Muslim belonging in Lucknow, the second phase uses walking interviews to grasp personal experiences of belonging, and the third phase reintroduces normative discourse to these experiences through group discussions. All three phases share the heuristic definition of religious belonging developed in my last post.

To continue the series on my PhD project, this post presents my heuristic framework and outlines what I mean by identity, belonging, and religious belonging. In fact, a fair junk of my interest in this project is theoretical (or conceptual, if you hate theory)... In two weeks, I shall add an overview of my methodology, and after that an introduction to my chosen field site: Lucknow. By then, the research visa should be issued, too - and more exciting stories form the field can be told...

Apart from this post on my conceptual framework, there are:
An introductory post to my topic
Another post on my methodological approach
Finally a post on why I chose Lucknow as a fieldsite

Every Indian knows whether he or she is a Muslim or not. But what it probably means to be one, in which contexts one chooses to identify oneself that way and whether being Muslim is one's sole religious identity remain very open questions. These questions constitute the core of my PhD project on Muslim belonging in contemporary Lucknow, and they are introduced in today's post.

Apart from this introductory post on my topic, there are:
A post on my conceptual framework
Another post on my methodological approach
Finally a post on why I chose Lucknow as a fieldsite

What puzzles me ever since I did my research among Muslim peace activists in Gujarat (and probably since long before, but that's another story) is how discursive attempts to delimit the substantive content, contextual relevance or exclusive status of Muslimness are taken up, digested, and at times resisted by individual Muslims. The ambivalences and ambiguities that shape Muslims' relations to other Muslims and to the numinous arguably depend on both discursive resources and personal experiences - but the latter rarely attract as much attention as the former. I thus not only want to understand how these two levels interact, but more specifically how processes of navigation and digestation of discourses work, in which social fields they take place and which various shapes they might take on the level of individual biographies.