Food, Caste and Technology in Seattle
Directed Research Group on Critical Caste and Tech Studies, Winter 2024
On February 21, 2023, Seattle City Council passed a law amending anti-discrimination protections in employment, public places, housing, and contracting to include caste as a protected class. After a long and sustained effort of over 20 years of anti-caste organizations in the US, Seattle became the first city in the United States to ban caste discrimination. As a system of oppression through social stratification, caste is assigned at birth, is immutable, and is reinforced through casteist practices. Caste discrimination in the US cannot be understood without an understanding of the caste demographics of the Hindu Indians residing in the US. A significant majority of Hindu Indians residing in the United States identify themselves as belonging to the General or upper caste. Caste is often reinforced through the separation of food and specific food practices which traveled with Indian migrants to other parts of the world, as did the system of caste. Within the upper caste diaspora, the tendency is to treat caste as a thing of the past and align themselves with modern, progressive claims of ‘castelessness’ or being free of the privileges that come with being the dominant castes (Vaghela, 2022).
In this DRG, we aim to develop a shared understanding of the analytic of caste and caste logics, as they travel with the Indian diaspora. Specifically, in the first half of the quarter, this DRG will involve an introductory dive into existing literature on caste, technology and food. In the second half of the quarter, participants will be actively involved in a small project that aims to provide empirical evidence of caste practices revolving around food in the Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue area, with a focus on analyzing reviews of Indian restaurants.
This DRG is open to Masters and PhD students.
Time: tentatively Wednesdays 12pm - 1pm
Location: TBD / Sieg 427
This DRG will be led by PhD students Sayan Bhattacharjee and Priya Dhawka and sponsored by Assistant Professors Sucheta Ghoshal and Sayamindu Dasgupta.
To apply, please fill out this Google Form.
Mapping Collective Visions for Tech Workers in the aftermath of the 2022-2023 Tech Layoffs
Led by Samuel So, PhD student (HCDE)
With guidance from HCDE professors Sucheta Ghoshal and Sean Munson
This DRG is at capacity for Autumn 2023 and no longer accepting applications.
By early 2023, several big tech companies, such as Alphabet, Meta, Amazon, and Intel, announced layoffs that would impact up to 100,000 people. Company leadership justified these decisions as the result of lowered sales and preemptive measures in anticipation of an economic recession. The current wave of layoffs comes at a time when tech workers are increasingly critical of their employers’ values and practices. The designers, engineers, and other techworkers in the workforce have an increasingly conflicted relationship with the managerial class within Big Tech, particularly with corporate leadership that gets to define the goals and visions of this industry. As a result, many of them are actively seeking out newer means of accountability within and outside the workplace.
As the next phase of this NSF-supported project, we will investigate the emergent relationships tech workers have with their employers, their value systems, and potential modes of accountability in the aftermath of the layoffs. In this 2-credit DRG, we will recruit for- and conduct an 8-week asynchronous remote communities (ARC) research study involving recently laid off tech workers. DRG students will facilitate ARC activities and qualitatively analyze participant responses.
For more information on the study, please refer here.
We are looking for:
- 2-3 graduate students (MS or PhD), or upper-level undergraduate students in their 3rd+ year
- No prior software development experience necessary
- No experience with qualitative data analysis software necessary
- Folks with qualitative data collection and analysis experience (e.g., interviews, surveys, focus groups, ARCs)
- Interest in technocultural analysis, labor studies, and/or CSCW research, theory, and methods
DRG Format and Expectations:
- Attend two weekly meetings: 75-minute research group meeting and 90 minute co-working session. Times TBD (see survey)
- Work on the DRG outside of scheduled meeting times for 3 hours
- Graded credit/no-credit for 2 credits (3 hours per credit = e.g., 3 hours of meetings + 3 hours of outside work = 2 CR)
Students in the DRG will:
- Co-create, workshop, facilitate, and monitor weekly ARC activities with participants
- Collect participant data and write observational memos based on participants’ weekly responses
- Collaborate on qualitative data analysis through grounded theory open-coding and research memos
Applications to this DRG are now closed. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Samuel So via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or HCDE Slack.