Rajat Nayyar is an anthropologist and a filmmaker with an MA in Audiovisual Ethnography from Tallinn University. He is a PhD candidate and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar in Theatre & Performance Studies at York University, where his research focus is on voice, vocal traditions, digital practices, possible/impossible world-making and fiction film/future-making in rural north India.
He is currently working on community-based ethnographic research, data analysis and knowledge mobilization for a SSHRC funded one-year project entitled “COVID-19 and Punjabi Migration” led by scholars at York University and O.P. Jindal Global University in partnership with Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS Foundation) in Toronto. The project seeks to understand the imaginaries of social mobility and interrogate the impact of COVID-19 on migration discourses across Punjab and Toronto.
Rajat's recent chapter "Staging Care: Dying, Death and Possible Futures" examines sensory audiovisual ethnography in his study of the distinctive politics-of-care staged by families who anticipate and create the possibility of Moksha for their dying relative in Kashi, India's holy city. He is curating Talking Uncertainty (an online talk series/podcast), developing Emergent Futures CoLab, and co-editing the 'Performance Ethnography' section of Centre for Imaginative Ethnography. He is also the founder of Espírito Kashi, a project that facilitates performative spaces for rural Indian communities to critically re-imagine folklore, envision new socialities, digital realities, decolonize archives, and film futures.
Keywords: Vocality; everyday resistance; collaborative filmmaking; performative spaces; folklore; decolonization