Alumna-Interaction-From Academics to Research & the In-Between by Shaifali Arora

Alumna Interaction V


The Department of English at the IIS University organized the fifth in a series of virtual Alumna Interactions on September 26, 2020. The speaker was Ms. Shefali Arora, from the batch of 2014, who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. on Partition at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Indore.


Her area of specialization is the importance of oral history in Partition, for which she has interviewed over a hundred men and women to gather first-hand accounts of the Partition. Her research emphasizes the importance of preserving the history of the Partition and its holocaust to explore its cultural and linguistic aspects. While emphasizing this "ethnic amnesia," she mentioned how her work looked beyond the monolithic trope of violence in our understanding and interpreted Partition History to review the intangible and non- eventful experiences. She remarked on how her keen interest in interdisciplinary research led her to this on-field research, supported by literature, cinema, popular media, and graphic narratives.


Her long-standing association with Digital Humanities also allowed her to dwell in detail on the methods and approaches of narrative analysis and ethnography such as Atlas.ti and Voyant, which help organize field notes and interview transcripts to trace recurrent themes and patterns in texts. She mapped and traced the movement of the Partition survivors by using a geographic information system (GIS). This conceptualized framework provides the ability to capture and analyze spatial and geographical data.


She also discussed the aspects of Digital Humanities such as Multilingual Literary Research, which solicits and publishes original research monographs in Humanities, Social Sciences.  She also shared her recent initiatives for collaboration with foreign universities in this area, such as the SPARC project and ASEM-DUO.


She closed her discussion by giving the students a couple of suggestions on selecting their research topics and how to go about securing scholarships and fellowships. She suggested that one must make optimum use of the e-resources like Questia, JSTOR, MLA, and Proquest, especially when the physical resources are not accessible at the time of a pandemic. Finally, through the Q&A session, she touched upon the influences of popular media on her work and also on how she deals with her interviewees who may be hesitant in sharing sensitive information.