Starting the summer – hello!

Hi everyone, I’m Raka, a rising fifth year (wow that goes fast) in the Sociology department at Penn. I was supposed to begin my fieldwork last year in India and Bangladesh but due to COVID, like many of you, this has been on hold. I’m really excited to be a part of the CASI community and check in with you all this summer and watch your projects develop.

I have pretty mundane goals for this summer but hopefully they will all get me prepared for being in the field. So you can all help hold me accountable: this summer, I plan two send off two papers for publication based on my preliminary fieldwork, complete my dissertation proposal, and do my one remaining comprehensive exam before leaving for the field.

For those of you who don’t know me yet, I’m working on a project in the Indian and Bangladeshi Sundarbans looking at climate change impacts on the ground level. The Sundarban mangrove forest is one of the places most affected by climate change globally, where residents actively battle against salt intrusion on their lands. As fields get flooded, cyclones are more frequent, seasons are wrong, salinity intrudes, farmers are no longer able to work and natural resources are becoming increasingly sparse. To cope, residents of the Sundarbans engage in new and changed forms of labor. This research aims to foreground how lives, labor, and livelihood are being rearranged in the climate changed present.

Building on preliminary fieldwork, I have observed the Sundarbans through four successive cyclones and now a global pandemic. This research will allow me to build a continued longitudinal understanding of the region required to answer my proposed questions: What labors are people in the Sundarbans doing everyday to adapt to climate change? How is this labor reshaping the social, economic, and political landscapes?

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About rakasen

Raka Sen is a graduate student in the sociology program at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include the sociology of climate change, social resilience, cities, neighborhoods and disaster sociology. Her research revolves around the gender divisions of the work it takes on the individual level to adapt to climate change in rural Bangladesh and India. She studies the Sundarbans, a piece and parcel mangrove forest that is often referred to as climate change ground zero. Prior to beginning her graduate study, Raka was a Researcher at Rebuild By Design, a resilience initiative launched after Hurricane Sandy. At Rebuild she worked on a study of managed retreat in the Sandy region and studied how long term infrastructure projects develop over time. A Colorado native, she holds a B.A. in Sociology, Urban Design & Architecture Studies from New York University.