Data & Society Research Institute Welcome Wednesday 3/11

Welcome Wednesdays is a series of evening, salon style gatherings for members of the Data & Society community to socialize, network, and share ideas.


On March 11th, 2020, filmmaker Ruchika Muchhala and Executive Producer, Karen Proctor, will be presenting their film project; Food for Thought: A Path to Food Security in Newark, NJ as a case study in the practice of participatory design research and data gathering. The film was made for RWJBarnabas Health in New Jersey and previously screened at EPIC2019.

This event is hosted by Director of Research, Sareeta Amrute

RSVP Here!

EPIC 2019: Third Kulture Media on the topic of Agency

EPIC Film Screening at RSDI Auditorium
Speaking at the Representation and Representativeness Panel

Representation & Representative-ness

We will be tackling the ever-relevant theme of “representation”, a topic with a long legacy in ethnography and anthropology. Actually, I feel like the panel already started in the terrific discussions we had to develop our abstract, so I want to share some of that thinking here to inspire you to join the conversation in Providence!

Our abstract begins: Ethnographers take pride in representing people’s voices with fidelity, empathy, and deep contextual understanding. But our work can end up reinforcing a distinction between people who “have experience” that we study for insights and people who “have expertise” to use, shape, and monetize that experience.

We want the panel to wrestle with the following questions:

  • What happens when telling a more representative story destroys the client’s narrative?
  • What does a commitment to representation look like in each stage of the process?
  • How does a commitment to representation change the way we do business (e.g. project planning, recruitment, reporting)?
  • How do we decide who/what we will represent in our research/work?

Film Screening

The film session at EPIC explores the ways ethnographic practitioners have used moving images to interpret data, share insights, and tell the stories of their work. Filmmakers showcase these forays in visual storytelling by screening examples and discussing the limits and possibilities of the form. Films were selected through anonymous review by our independent Film Committee. Read more about the films at EPIC 2019 here.

Inspiring women immigrants at a panel discussion with New Women, New Yorkers

An inspiring evening with 4 accomplished women immigrants

To mark the completion of two spring series of the LEAD program and the graduation of 18 young women immigrants from the program, New Women New Yorkers held a roundtable discussion at the Mid-Manhattan New York Public Library (NYPL) on May 3. The panel consisted of four inspiring and successful immigrant women. The panel discussion was moderated by Mia Toftdahl Olesen, LEAD Program Coordinator, and Pamela Dicent, facilitator for the LEAD program, and the panelists consisted of women who immigrated to the US from countries as diverse as those of the LEAD program participants: Elena Walker, a fundraising professional from Russia; Linda Baron, a PhD student and entrepreneur from Colombia; Paula Freire Bastos, a business and finance consultant from Brazil; and Ruchika Muchhala, a documentary filmmaker from Indonesia and India.

Read more on The New Women New Yorkers website here.

International Health Women’s Coalition Event

A Witty Take on Arranged Marriage in India Spurs Conversation

On July 16, 2015, a diverse group of more than 40 Friends of IWHC gathered for a screening of The Great Indian Marriage Bazaar and a conversation with its director, Ruchika Muchhala.

The screening room, courtesy of IWHC’s neighbors Doctors Without Borders, was abuzz with Friends reconnecting and networking over Indian beer, kathi rolls, and other Indian-themed fare. The documentary—co-directed, produced and narrated by Ruchika Muchhala—is a witty and insightful film about arranged marriage in India. It includes interviews with matchmakers and others in the booming industry, following two brides-to-be in Mumbai. Ruchika shares her own experiences navigating various Indian matchmaking services and websites at the urging of her parents.

Read more on The International Women’s Health Coaltion website.

International Women’s Day 2015 – ‘The Great Indian Marriage Bazaar’ is Every South Asian 20-Something’s Life Story

Muchhala’s quirkiness adds to the unspoken truth of how most women feel at first when and if they ever attempt to create an online dating profile, and that is the start of her journey to what should have been an arranged marriage.

Every girl dreams of meeting and falling hopelessly, madly and deeply in love with her handsome Prince Charming. And, of course, not to mention, having a dream wedding and then living happily ever after with children. But what is the downfall of women who happen to be in their twenties and still waiting for their prince? The wrath of an arranged marriage happens. Read more here.

Ruchika Muchhala with Nadia Manzoor and Joya Dass at International Women’s Day Event, 2015
From left to right: Christina Aguilar, theatre producer and playwright; Diana Whitten, documentary filmmaker; Saida Ali, women’s rights activist; Muchhala; Nadia Manzoor, writer, actor and producer; Joya Dass, TV anchor and the event’s moderator. [Photo Credit: Trisha Sakhuja]