Engagement and Collaboration – Meera Baindur

There are three concerns I would like to raise about collaborative work.

1. There is an enormous competition that exists within Indian institutions. The same kind of institutions tend to grab similar projects. I am willing to put the dangerous F word on the table: where do get that kind of funding?

2. There are 2 levels of collaboration: a) collaborative writing b) collaborative thinking . In terms of collaborative writing, there is a concern about the aesthetics of writing. But if we try to break away from the homogeneity of writing  required by a larger community, and if we think about collaborating with people who work in different mediums, say photographs or film, that may help address the aesthetic concern.

3. Another question worth answering: what are we listening for? Are we listening for data? In a lot of collaborations between professors in the US and grad student in India, the professors in the US are usually just expecting data. There is an anxiety about the asymmetry of power in such collaborations. I am suspicious when somebody wants to collaborate with me, I am worried if I am going to get used. Is he listening to me for my growth or is he listening for his own growth?

Meera Baindur


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