Centre for Internet & Society

Details of a session proposed for the Internet Researchers' Conference 2022 - #Home.

Internet Researchers' Conference 2022 - # Home - Call for Sessions


Session Type: Presentation and Discussion of Papers

Session Plan

The COVID-19 pandemic left many of us stranded between homes – some were able to reach back to our natal homes while others had to make do with where we were then situated. This was a difficult journey of sudden confinement. In times like these when people ought to be with their families, many of us didn’t get the chance to be with them. There emerged new questions of what is home, where is our home.

Can there be a single home? Can people from the North Eastern belt call the mainland our home in times of crisis where racial discrimination was right on our face? Do meanings of home change for a person with psychosocial disabilities who relies on external communities for support system? What does this forced confinement inside the home bring for the queer subject for whom the public space was the only getaway to live our queer lives? 

We understand that the pandemic opened up the canvas of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ by offering us alternative modes of socialization, thereby building communities within social movement which may not be tied to physical interaction. The internet in this context offered a temporary escape to many of us, while also latching on to our tendencies of addictive consumption. It was the only connection we had with the world outside. Issues that were previously overlooked gained attention as they reached to the level of crisis. Not only did educational learning suddenly shift to the digital space, we also witnessed a transition of the existing social movements into the digital landscape. This was obviously exclusionary for many without access, but also opened scope for a new accessibility of these existing modes of learning which the disabled population could better adapt to.

This session is a presentation of two papers by the three team members on the theme of home and the internet for Dalit-Bahujan and Tribal students in India along the intersections of queer, disabled and North Eastern identity-based experiences. With qualitative interviews of women and queer students, and students with psychosocial disabilities in higher education, we bring out narratives of how the pandemic has affected the idea of home for them, how their cross-cutting intersectional identities have played a role in their experience of the real and the digital space, how the burden of labour has changed for women students in these times, how the social movements took shape within the contours of the home and on the internet, and what are the mental health impacts of these experiences on these students. The papers will be partly autoethnographic as the research questions have evolved from the personal experiences of the researchers themselves. 

Keywords: Mental health, movement building, working from home, friendship, labour, discrimination, social media, internet

Session Team 

Bhanu Priya Gupta is a PhD scholar in Disability Studies at Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD). Her research area is mental illness among Dalit-Bahujan women in the Hindi-speaking belt of India. She is a first-generation graduate who comes from the Bhadbunja community (most backward caste) of North India. She identifies as a Bahujan queer woman, a caregiver and person with mental illness. She has previously worked at National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) as a Research Associate. She is also a writer and has published her works at Mad in Asia, Velivada, In Plainspeak, and Gaysi Family.

Dona Biswas is a PhD candidate in Women’s and Gender Studies, studying in Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD) and Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS). Her research area is social movement and women in movement, working on Bodoland Movement in Assam. She belongs to Namasudra (SC) Bengali community, migrated Agricultural labourer, in Assam. She has previously worked at Nirantar: A Centre for Gender and Education, Delhi as a Research Assistant on Early and Child Marriage in India. Her writings have been published at Feminism in India, Velivada, and Sanghaditha. 

Ekta Kailash Sonawane belongs to Mahar (Dalit) community of Maharashtra. They did their Masters in Gender Studies from Ambedkar University Delhi wherein they wrote a dissertation on the intellectual history of class, caste and gender. They have worked as a journalist and researcher at Awaaz India TV and Institute of Human Development. Their work has been published at Dalit Camera, Indie Journal, Colour's Board, Feminist Collective. They have also published a feature article in Hindustan Times.




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