Anasuya Ray, PhD Candidate Afghanistan
Since starting the PhD program at Rutgers, Anasuya had the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan. Anasuya has always been enamored by Afghan history and culture. Anasuya decided to focus her dissertation on Afghanistan as one way of pursuing her dream. She believes mainstream media reports portray a very narrow point of view and academic work on the country is very limited, which she is determined to expand on. Her dissertation aims to fill the existing knowledge gap by contributing to a unique understanding of this conflict from the perspective of the Afghans because they are the primary stakeholders in this conflict.
Anasuya’s dissertation focuses on exploring everyday violence and collective memory in the context of nearly four decades of conflict in Afghanistan from narratives of an ethnically diverse group of Afghans from the city of Kabul, who have experienced armed conflict and other forms of violence as an everyday occurrence. An essential part of her study is to explore the meaning of violence as a phenomenon; evaluate the process by which respondents experience violence as a part of their everyday lives; and analyze how they normalize violence when it becomes a recurrent event. She has taken two trips to Afghanistan in the past year to collect data for her dissertation. On her most recent trip, she stayed for about 4 months. She conducted in-depth interviews through convenience sampling. Through her interviews, she gained an understanding of how violence became a part of everyday life in Afghanistan during the conflict. Although she intended on conducting between 25 and 30 interviews, she surpassed her goal by completing a total of 40.
Anasuya was grateful for spending a substantial amount of time in Afghanistan. Besides collecting data for her dissertation, she made valuable connections with people who offered a different perspective on life. She explained “It’s not every day that you meet someone who fought a war or lived in confinement under repressive regimes. They have influenced the way I think and my views on life.” From this experience, Anasuya feels the relationships she built are most valuable.
Not only was she able to complete her data collection, but she was able to take an important step in her career. She describes this as an enriching experience that allowed her to improve her skills as a researcher. She got a chance to develop a critical and nuanced understanding about the complexity of the conflict. Moving forward, she plans to visit Afghanistan every year and expand on her research. She is invested in Afghanistan and hopes to see a better and more stable future for the country. Anasuya personally feels that there are many new and exciting things to discover in Afghanistan, especially at this very critical political juncture of transition coming up in 2014. Her study is a timely piece of work on the nature of the Afghan conflict. Through her dedication and passion, Anasuya will make valuable contributions to the field of international social work.