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Call for Researchers: Welfare, Gender, and Surveillance

We are inviting applications for two researchers. Each researcher is expected to write a narrative essay that interrogates the modes of surveillance that people of LGBTHIAQ+ and gender non-conforming identities and sexual orientations are put under as they seek sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in India. The researchers are expected to undertake field research in the location they are based in, and reflect on lived experiences gathered through field research as well as their own experiences of doing field research. Please read the sections below for more details about the work involved, the timeline for the same, and the application process for this call.

 

Call for Researchers: Download (PDF)


Description of the Work

Each researcher is expected to author a narrative essay that presents and reflects on lived experiences of people of LGBTHIAQ+ and gender non-conforming identities and sexual orientations as they seek sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in India. We expect the essay to contribute to a larger body of knowledge around the increasing focus on data-driven initiatives for public health provision in the country and elsewhere. Accordingly, the researcher may respond to any one or more than one of the following questions, within the context of the geographical focus as specified by the researcher:

  • What are the modes of surveillance, especially in terms of generation and exploitation of digital data, experienced by people of marginalised gender identities and sexual orientations in India, as they avail of sexual and reproductive healthcare?
  • How are the lived experiences of underserved populations, such as people of marginalised gender identities and sexual orientations, shaped by gendered surveillance while accessing sexual and reproductive services?
  • What are the modes of governance and gender ideologies that have mediated the increasing datafication of such provision?

We expect the researchers to draw on a) the Indian Supreme Court’s framing of privacy in India, as a fundamental right, and its implications; and b) apply and/or build on feminist conceptualisations of privacy. Further, we expect the researchers to respond to the uncertain landscape of legal rights accessible to people of LGBTHIAQ+ and gender non-conforming identities and sexual orientations, especially in the current context shaped by The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.

The researchers will undertake field research in locations of their choice, conduct interviews and discussions with people of LGBTHIAQ+ and gender non-conforming identities and sexual orientations seeking such services, and conduct formal and informal interviews with officials and personnel associated with public and private sector agencies involved in the provision of SRH services.

Eligibility and Application Process

We specifically encourage people of LGBTHIAQ+ and gender non-conforming identities and sexual orientations to submit their applications for this call for researchers.

We are seeking applications from individuals who:

  • Are based in the place where field study is to be undertaken, for the duration of the study;
  • Are fluent in the main regional language(s) spoken in the city where the study will be conducted, and in English (especially written);
  • Preferably have a postgraduate degree (current students should also apply) in social or technical sciences, journalism, or legal studies (undergraduate degree-holders with research or work experience should also apply); and
  • Have previous research and writing experiences on issues at the intersection of sexual and reproductive health, gender justice and women’s rights, and health informatics or digital public health.

Please send the following documents (in text or PDF formats) to ​[email protected]​​ by ​Friday, January 24​​ to apply for the researcher positions:

  • Brief CV with relevant academic and professional information;
  • Two samples of academic/professional (published/unpublished) writing by the applicant; and
  • A brief research proposal (around 500 words) that should specify the scope (geographical and conceptual), research questions, and motivation of the essay to be authored by the applicant.

All applicants will be informed of the selection decisions by Friday, January 31.

Timeline of the Work

February 3-7 CIS research team will have a call with each researcher to plan out the work to be undertaken by them

February - March Researchers are to undertake field research, as proposed by the researchers and discussed with the CIS research team

March 27 Researchers are to submit a full draft essay (around 3,000 words)

March 30 - April 3 CIS research team will have call with each researcher to discuss the shared draft essays and make plans towards their finalisation

May 15 Researchers are to submit the final essay (around 5,000 words, without footnotes and references)

As part of this project, CIS will organise two discussion events in Bengaluru and New Delhi during April-June (tentatively). Event dates are to be decided in conversation with the researchers, and they will be invited to present their works in the same.

Remuneration

Each researcher will be paid a remuneration of ​Rs. 1,00,000 (inclusive of taxes) ​​over two equal installments: first on signing of the agreement in February 2020, and second on submission of the final essay in May 2020.

We will also reimburse local travel expenses of each researcher upto Rs. 10,000, and translations and transcriptions expense (if any) incurred by each researcher upto Rs. 10,000. These reimbursements will be made on the basis of expense invoices shared by the researcher.

Description of the Project

Previous research conducted by CIS on the subject of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in India observes that there is a complex web of surveillance, or ‘dataveillance’, around each patient as they avail of SRH services from the state. In this current project, we are aiming to map the ecosystem of surveillance around SRH services as their provision becomes increasingly ‘data-driven’, and explore its implications for patients and beneficiaries.

Through this project, we are interested in documenting the roles played by both the public and the private sector actors in this ecosystem of health surveillance. We understand the role of private sector actors as central to state provision of sexual and reproductive health services, especially through the institutionalisation of data-driven health insurance models, as well as through extensive privatisation of public health services. By studying semi-private, private, and public medical establishments including hospitals, primary/community health centres and clinics, we aim to develop a comparative analysis of surveillance ecosystems across the three establishment types.

This project is led by Ambika Tandon, Aayush Rathi, and Sumandro Chattapadhyay at the Centre for Internet and Society, and is supported by a grant from Privacy International and International Development Research Centre, Canada.

Indicative Reading List

We are sharing below a short and indicative list of readings that may be useful for potential applicants.

Aayush Rathi, Is India's Digital Health System Foolproof? (2019)

Aayush Rathi and Ambika Tandon, Data Infrastructures and Inequities: Why Does Reproductive Health Surveillance in India Need Our Urgent Attention? (2019)

Ambika Tandon, Feminist Methodology in Technology Research: A Literature Review (2018)

Ambika Tandon, Big Data and Reproductive Health in India: A Case Study of the Mother and Child Tracking System (2019)

Anja Kovacs, Reading Surveillance through a Gendered Lens: Some Theory (2017)

Lindsay Weinberg, Rethinking Privacy: A Feminist Approach to Privacy Rights after Snowden (2017)

Nicole Shephard, Big Data and Sexual Surveillance (2016)

Sadaf Khan, Data Bleeding Everywhere: A Story of Period Trackers (2019)

 

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Author

Ambika Tandon

Ambika is a Senior Policy Officer at the CIS. She undertakes gender-based research across some of our projects, including the future of work, privacy, and feminist research methodology. She can be reached at [email protected] or @AmbikaTandon