Ethnographic Research Internship (3 months in 2021 or 2022) in a Swisscontact Project on Creating Commercial Livelihood Opportunities in a Very Remote Vulnerable Area in Bangladesh

We are looking for a highly motivated anthropology master student to conduct ethnographic research within the ongoing M4C project (Making Markets Work for the Chars) in Bangladesh of the NGO Swisscontact. The focus of the ethnographic exploration is women’s perspectives, their choices and agency along with their interactions with power structures in interventions that aim to enhance livelihood opportunities for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Bangladesh.

Project Description

M4C aims to reduce vulnerability and increase wellbeing of vulnerable and marginalised dwellers living in the northern char region of Bangladesh. Chars are riverine land, susceptible to erosion and soil deposition, which remain disconnected from mainland either seasonally or throughout the year. Limited income and opportunities hinder formation of substantial livelihoods capital (financial, physical, human, social and natural) of char households, which is essential to cope with the vulnerable context (economic, physical, social, political and natural) of the chars (see: https://www.swisscontact.org/nc/en/projects-and-countries/search-projects/project-finder/project/-/show/making-markets-work-for-the-jamuna-padma-and-teesta-chars-m4c.html).

Char households are the target beneficiaries of this project. The major stakeholders of the project are multiple agricultural companies, micro-finance institutions and public sector organizations operating in Bangladesh. 

Your Research

While the project is professionally assessed and evaluated by Swisscontact within the usual structured measurement process, Swisscontact is keen to go beyond that and is interested in an anthropological study assessing the political-economic, social and cultural changes due to the M4C project. It seeks to develop an understanding of the wider impact of creating commercial livelihood opportunities for char households. What has changed in the life of people living in the chars? How do choices and agency of women look like? How do they interact with changing power structures? How do the poorest and most vulnerable perceive the changes? These are only a few of the questions that might lead an ethnographic exploration of the broader political-economic changes in interventions that aim to create commercial livelihood opportunities.

The chosen student will be encouraged to develop an independent research project during spring semester (in the Masterseminar Methoden) within the framework of the Swisscontact M4C project. This research would ideally culminate in their master’s thesis in social and cultural anthropology (Ethnologie) at the University of Zurich.

Research will be partly funded by the project (contribution to board and lodging, translators, and research assistant) and access will be facilitated by the local partners in the project. Supervision will be provided by ISEK-Social Anthropology.

The student is encouraged to participate in the activities related to Bangladesh provided by ISEK-Social Anthropology (e.g. Regionalmodul FS 2020 and excursion in 2020).

If you are interested in applying for this research internship please send a short CV and a letter outlining your motivation and a preliminary research idea to annuska.derks@uzh.ch by the end of May 2020.

Miriam Wohlgemuth

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