Bitopi Dutta is a native of North East India and in her second year of a PhD. Bitopi is studying in the School of Law and Government on the DCU Glasnevin Campus.
What has been your experience of living in Ireland and Dublin in relation to the city and culture?
Although at the beginning it took me a while to adapt to a different culture as I was living in a foreign country for the first time in my life, it all went well eventually. I love Dublin and it has been great learning about the Irish culture. Walking around the city centre of Dublin at weekends and visiting beautiful places in and around Ireland has been worth the experience! Cheering on Paddy’s day followed by a pint of Guinness in the evening; the experience of tasting Irish coffee for the very first time and learning to exclaim in that typical Irish expression “Grand” – all have been beautiful memories for me in the making!
Why did you choose to do your PhD at DCU?
DCU has the appropriate infrastructure to enable me to build my specific skill-set during the course of my PhD, which in the long-run will assist me in achieving my career goal. Research skills training in conjunction with general and transferable skills training are provided by the Graduate Studies Office and the Faculties in DCU for PhD students. I was offered a full postgraduate scholarship from the School of Law and Government in DCU. I didn’t hesitate in taking up the scholarship, as the opportunities provided under the structured PhD programme and the ENRICH framework resonated perfectly with my long term career goal and that is precisely why I chose DCU to do my PhD!
How do you find studying at DCU in relation to your school and your study?
My experience has been excellent! The ENRICH framework provided by DCU prepares students from all disciplines to pursue careers beyond traditional academia through training like critical thinking, responsiveness to change, income generation, dissemination of research, and team working. This flexibility of the structured PhD helped me to pick up the relevant courses and training available in resonance with my present research and career goal.
DCU has the Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction and also the Ireland India Institute. Both of these institutes gave me links with Indian Universities and Research organisations as well as a community of Indian students. I could also access two overlapping groups of research students via these two institutes – one group researching on different aspects of India and the other researching gender in different regional contexts. This proved to be a valuable asset for my present research. The School of Law and Government in DCU, where I am undertaking my PhD, conducts weekly workshops and seminars and offers a vibrant work environment and is one of the top 200 prestigious department of international relations in the world. The professors who taught me are very experienced and accessible for quick guidance on anything that might concern the students.
Can you tell me a little about your research topic?
My research investigates how the social roles and status of women in matrilineal tribes in India changed as a result of development induced displacement. The research focuses on the predominantly tribal state of Meghalaya in North East India, where the tribes trace their lineage from the female side. These tribal communities have been considered to be a relatively gender equal society. Previous research has already argued that the tribal women in Meghalaya have lost their traditional status as a result of displacement introduced by coal mining in the region.
My research investigates the change in the status of women in this region, but its primary focus is on the processes through which this change occurred as well as a detailed study of the content of the change in the status of women and their roles. The research is based on a case study of displacement that occurred 25 years ago and where the matrilineal tribe has resettled. This allows the research to trace a process of change over a quarter of a century. It uses ‘life history narratives’ to analyse both the content and the process of change that has occurred over this 25 year period in this community and each interview focuses on the individual’s experience and perception of change in their own life story. All these narratives will be analysed collectively to describe and define the content of the change and the processes that drove change.
This investigation is a pioneer work on the gender analysis of displacement but it will also have the capacity to theorise of how gender roles are restructured, especially under external pressures, in other social contexts.
Have you thought about your future plans when you have completed your PhD?
I want to be an academic in the future and involve myself in action research focused on policy interventions. I also have an interest in script writing for small or big screens which I also wish to work on seriously.