Over the course of the summer, I worked with Professor Ramya Sreenivasan to analyze and represent shifts in pre-colonial South-Asian political control through an entirely fresh lens. My research partner Elliot and I worked with our mentor to look at preconceived notions of South-Asian history– which tends to focus on polities (like empires and kingdoms), rather than places– and help develop a unique criteria of what exactly constituted ‘political control’ in this time period. We then sifted through a large amount of primary and secondary historical data before compiling our own databases through Excel, and eventually creating a visual time-lapse of our findings on a geographic-information software, ArcGIS (a discipline that neither of us had any previous experience with).
This collaborative, goal-oriented and highly analytical work experience that required me to be creative, quickly adapt to disciplines I was unfamiliar with, and meet deadlines promptly greatly contributed to my educational experience and professional development. Working closely with a research partner taught me how to collaborate in a professional environment and build upon one another’s ideas; while I was given the chance to make a lasting friendship.
Beyond that, it allowed me to open my mind to a completely new perspective on South-Asian history: uncovering the stories of our own amnesia, as Professor Sreenivasan would say. The ability to look beyond what is conventional and seemingly obvious, and to reconsider it from a novel perspective was basically what I sought to gain from PURM (and my experience at Penn as a whole) and I can honestly say my summer experience exceeded my expectations.