Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2020
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
The Making and Receiving of Rain: Labor, Tempo, and the Ordinary Life of Climate-Change

What kind of anthropological object is rain? In drought-prone rural West Bengal, life is lived in anticipation of the monsoons. Rain is thus not simply a disenchanted pattern of meteorological data, but also acutely experienced and transformed through embodied and affective relations to particular ecologies of experience. This project investigates the seasonal lives of three neighboring communities of "earth-workers" – paddy-cultivators, potters, and musicians – in south-west Bankura, each of whom claim that their form of labor has a direct influence on the timely arrival of rain. Through twelve months of ethnographic research, this project investigates the tempos of seasonal labor and modalities of transformation adopted by these communities, focusing on the joint technologies of 1) an indigenous strain of winter paddy, 2) an annual rain-making ritual, and 3) a monsoonal form of classical music. At a time of increasing agricultural distress in rural Bengal, this project explores the modes of attunement, and shared ontological frameworks deployed by these technologies as everyday interventions in climate. While social scientists have studied rain from within instances of natural disaster and climate crises, this research explores the physical and metaphysical contexts within which rain is made and received, and the forms of life that it animates in relation to the earth.