ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Queering Care and the Space–Time Disruptions of COVID-19

A student researcher reflects on conducting ethnographic research during the COVID-19 pandemic, centring an ethic of care examining the idea of care itself.

 

When I enrolled in the master’s programme in women’s studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, I was already excited about the dissertation, and going to the “field” for research. While our lectures on qualitative research methodology discussed field research, I never got the time or space to explore “the field” since the fieldwork component of the course remained online because of the pandemic. From the day I wrote “Mother taught me”—a poem about my experience of learning the notions of caring from my mother in a transactional manner—I have always wanted to explore that idea of caring and mothering among queer individuals. But taking my research forward, primarily through an autoethnography (a form of qualitative research where the author uses self-reflection and personal experience to explore the wider cultural, political, and social meaning of the research), and reflexive dyadic interviewing (a form of in-depth interviewing where the researcher’s personal context adds context to the interview prompts and questions) was emotionally challenging.

A significant component of my research work involves the notion of “collaborative witnessing” where a relationship of caring is present between the participant and the researcher—with a sharing of authority and responsibility, through mutual listening and caring. Attempting to queer care is to place it outside the binaries and norms of patriarchy. However, I confronted another peculiar binary—physical space and digital space. I conducted most of my reflexive dyadic interviews face to face in shared spaces and some through Zoom. The critical difference between these two experiences was that there were greater complexities in the Zoom interviews—besides digital fatigue and problems with the software—specifically around collaborative witnessing, as we were not in the same space.

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Updated On : 20th Mar, 2022
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