The core members of the Research Platform team are Suryamayi, Henrike and Ravi.
I was born and raised in Auroville, and have been dedicated to research in this experimental community since 2015. I completed a doctoral thesis in Development Studies at the University of Sussex in 2019, building on an award-winning undergraduate thesis on Auroville in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. My research engages with many aspects of Aurovilian society, exploring how our ideals are engaged in practice – notably in the spheres of socio-economy, collective organization, and education – and speaks to broader frameworks of utopian and prefigurative practice, social economy and alter-development, integral yoga and education, learning societies, community and intentional community. I have presented and published insights from this work to academic and non-academic audiences internationally.
As soon as I became involved in research on Auroville, I was struck by its richness as a site of experimentation in many fields, and the potential for insightful and impactful research to be produced here, relevant beyond the community. This first led me to co-direct The Bridge, an international, transdisciplinary, collaborative research encounter at the occasion of Auroville’s 50th anniversary (2018), and next to establish the Auroville Research Platform as service to facilitate such exchange between visiting researchers and Auroville.
I have been trained as an anthropologist and have a background in International Public Law, with a focus on Human Rights. My Bachelor research was conducted in Auroville and focused on how the Auroville governance is experienced by community members, especially with regards to the spiritual element v. the bureaucratization of the Auroville system. Doing research in Auroville, I spoke to many people and quickly gained some insight into how this little society functions; my interest was piqued but I decided to go back home to pursue a career in academia.
I worked as a researcher for some years at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, where I was part of a team looking to concretely use ethnographic insights to further implementation of human rights. As a case study, we took several African countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroon, and Senegal) and supported them in their reporting to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
For a later research project, I returned to India, and through a myriad of avenues ended up back in Pondicherry, researching India’s middle class’ orientations towards arranged marriage. Reconnecting to Auroville, I decided to settle here in 2016. Since then, I have been farming, facilitating, and building a new community – the Joy of Impermanence. I now run a blog, the Auroville Adventure, to help keep people connected to our community. The Research Platform is my way of supporting researchers who come, like I came before, to learn about the Auroville experiment.