By Sydney Lang
Before I left for Kerala, I was very aware of my own privilege within a Canadian context, and was curious to see what challenges I would face while navigating this understanding in a new cultural setting, especially due to the nature of our role as white, Western anthropologists and interns. I reflected upon my own understandings of inequality as embedded in a particular colonial knowledge, and how that would influence my ability to critique the institution and engage with the students.
Now, I carry a lot away from this experience, especially engaging with anthropology and fieldwork. We discuss these challenges and contentions in class, but when you engage with them firsthand, you feel the weight of the situation and the context heavily. How can we speak for these students and represent them in a way that does them justice? Is it our role to represent them and speak for them? I met several wonderful and radical educators and social activists who could easily speak for themselves – is it my place to represent them within this context? This reflection became all the more pressing and complicated once I returned to Canada.