I am currently going into my third year at McGill University as a U3 student majoring in both Art History and Anthropology. My interests include archaeology, postcolonial studies, botanical illustrations, critical curating and slavery studies with a focus on Canada, India and South America. My academic background reflects my interests in South Asian archaeology as well as topics regarding the visual culture of slavery. As a McGill student who was going to be turning 21 in July 2019, my mindset in the fall 2018 and winter 2019 semester was to find an opportunity where I could explore my interests and find a potential path for my future academic career. That opportunity came in the form of an internship called the Maski Archaeological Project (MAP) where I was able to apply my knowledge outside of the classroom and to gain fieldwork skills through the curation and excavation of artifacts.
MAP is a multi-disciplinary research project with members from Canada, India and America investigating several topics regarding Neolithic through Medieval period (3000 BCE – 1600 CE) societies in Southern India. The goal of this project is to explore the roles of settlement, agricultural, pastoral, metallurgical and ritual practices in prehistoric and historic societies in South India. As an intern, my responsibilities and duties included surface documentation of archaeological sites and the processing, analysis and curation of archaeological materials. These responsibilities further required me to code, draw, analyse and photograph artifacts, such as ceramics, and to complete data entry as well as sediment flotation for macro botanical analysis. I completed these duties within eight weeks; six of which were spent in India and two of which were spent on week prior to my departure and one week after my return at McGill with Professor Johansen.
From the start of my internship on June 17th to the end on August 12th, I had experienced several highlights. For example, while doing lab work, I realized that I was very useful to MAP when completing data entry and when sediment flotation was required at a fast, yet organized pace. In those moments, I felt like an asset to the project. Another highlight was when we were recording rock art on the inselbergs. The hills in Maski are very high and challenging to climb but I was able to face my fear of heights as well as use my photography skills to help photograph and record the rock art throughout the weeks. Some other highlights include meeting the MAP team who I now consider my good friends as well as celebrating my 21st birthday in India and experiencing Indian culture.
After completing my internship, I will be taking ANTH 499, an internship course, under the supervision of Professor Johansen who was both my host and the lead of the MAP internship program. This course will count towards 3 credits of my Anthropology major component. My paper topic will explore the rock art we recorded for patterns, potential dating and pertinent information that it can reveal about the sites and societies living in the area from the Neolithic to Medieval period.
MAP has shaped my academic path in the best way possible. As a student completing a double major, I was having a difficult time thinking about graduate school. Would I apply for Art History or Anthropology? Although I still have a passion for both fields, MAP has helped me narrow it down to Anthropology with a specialization in archaeology possibly in India. With the skills I acquired and the experience I gained from the internship, I believe that I could make a great archaeologist and get accepted into a good graduate program. I have found a field that I could see myself researching, teaching and living for a very long time that is both challenging and enjoyable for me.
I received funding under the Faculty of Arts Internship Award and Enriched Educational Opportunities (EEO). I would first like to thank AIO and Dean Antonia Maioni for the funding I received as well as EEO who all together made it possible for me, a student paying their tuition with their own money, to have this opportunity to complete an internship that has benefitted my academic prospects as well as general quality of life. The total funding I received helped me pay for my trip and the expenses of the internship from vaccinations to field supplies. It also allowed me to help pay for my tuition for fall 2019 and winter 2020 considering that I was not working for eight weeks at my fulltime summer job. Coming from a student whose parents cannot supply the means to pay for school, rent, groceries and medical bills, I am forever thankful, grateful and honored to have received the Faculty of Arts Internship Award and EEO funding. I would also like to thank Professor Johansen for choosing me as both his research assistant and intern for MAP and for always challenging me to be the best student I can be.