I was seconded to the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi for three months between September and December 2015. My purpose for going to New Delhi were primarily to avail of the public and private papers based in the National Archives of India, Nehru Memorial Museum Library (popularly known as ‘Teen Murti’) as well as the PC Joshi archives in JNU all of which contained a diverse array of archival material of great benefit to my research. My research is centred on cross-cultural affiliations and transnational subversive connections between Irish and Indian revolutionaries in the early twentieth century period.
Living in New Delhi was both a strange and enriching experience. I soon realised that for the purposes of self-preservation it is simply easier to surrender to the invisible logic of chaos and madness which characterises the hustle and bustle of daily life in India. Crossing the road is a typical example. The traffic in Delhi is like a self-balancing eco-system which one must both respect and fear. The archives were a frustrating exercise in bureaucratic red tape. Getting an overnight train is an experience I will never forget. But somehow everything manages to work. Often it is better to resign and just let it happen. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan in late October recorded tremors and witnessed buildings shake in Delhi which resulted in an electricity outage in the archives. However, since black outs were not an unusual occurrence it was rather amusing when the PhD students and researchers continued to work away for a while in the darkness typing up notes diligently until the head archivist entered and informed us we must evacuate the building immediately.
Studying at JNU was a really interesting experience. Home to a beautiful lush campus on the outskirts of Delhi I was fortunate to observe a profoundly politically active and academically engaging student populous. Professor Aditya Mukherjee’s postgraduate research group were very welcoming and helpful. It was not long after arriving that I became invited to numerous discussions, seminars and conferences. One of the highlights of my time in India was being given the opportunity to present my research at one of the postgraduate meetings in the Centre for Historical Studies. This for me encapsulated the advantages and benefits from participating in the SPECTRESS secondment as I was able to present my work to an audience that otherwise would not have been possible and receive feedback accordingly.