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Ashoka faculty Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti awarded the best fieldwork prize

In a significant recognition, Prof. Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Ashoka University, has won the "best fieldwork" prize from the American Political Science Association' (APSA's) "Democracy and Autocracy" section

The Democracy and Autocracy Section of the American Political Science Association (APSA) has announced Ashoka University faculty Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti as the winner of the Best Field Work Award.

The citation reads:

Kaustav Chakrabarti of Ashoka University, India, for his dissertation, from Brown University, entitled “Underground Governance: Rules-Based Order by Armed Groups in Northeast India.” Chakrabarti conducted a total of 254 in-depth interviews over 11 months of immersive fieldwork in order to understand the intricacies of rebel governance without territorial control. The geographical breadth of these interviews deserves mention: the majority of interviews took place in 10 districts across the states of Nagaland, Mizoram, and Manipur, and 9 of these districts are designated as active conflict zones. Apart from interviewing rebel leaders, foot soldiers, bureaucrats and policemen, Chakrabarti also made use of national and personal archives to cross-reference information gathered through the interviews in a systematic way. The committee was particularly impressed with Chakrabarti’s lengthy discussion of how he selected respondents, handled discrepancies in interview data, his mitigation strategies, and his learning of best interview practices “on the job.” The resulting dissertation is elegantly written and allows the reader to take a deep dive into the workings of rebel governance.

The Democracy and Autocracy Section of APSA promotes the analysis of the origins, processes, and outcomes of democratization among nations of all regions of the world. It encourages scholarship that is both informed by comparative theoretical perspectives and based on field research in specific countries.

It seeks to activate global networks of both democracy scholars and policy-makers—facilitating their interaction and enhancing their role within APSA.

Prof. Chakrabarti received a Ph.D. from Brown University in 2021. He also holds a Master’s degree in political science from Binghamton University and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Pune University. He was earlier based at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi where he worked on insurgency and national security policy in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.

Ashoka University pushes the frontiers of knowledge to achieve research excellence across multiple disciplines. The amalgamation of basic sciences with humanities and social sciences has created a vibrant environment which facilitates several unique interdisciplinary research opportunities for researchers at the university.

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