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Journalism Students Rewarded SASNET Grant for South Asia Travels

Journalism Students SASNET Grant
Journalism students and SASNET grantees (left to right) Hannes E. Ahlström, Elsa Ivarsson, and Erik Lindberg. Photo: Johanna Nilsson.

From social media activism and climate change refugees in Bangladesh to bike rides in Mumbai, India. Journalism students Elsa Ivarsson, Erik Lindberg, and Hannes E. Ahlström are this year's SASNET grantees for field studies in South Asia.

SASNET annually awards travel grants to students from the School of Journalism at Lund University for conducting fieldwork in South Asia. The fieldwork is to be carried out during the students' Bachelor course in journalism and takes place in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, or Bhutan. The 2024 Travel Grant is awarded to three journalism students: Elsa Ivarsson, Erik Lindberg, and Hannes E. Ahlström.

Elsa Ivarsson and Erik Lindberg will travel together to Dhaka in Bangladesh, conducting research for upcoming articles on two different themes: Bangladeshi climate refugees and social media activism.

Bangladesh is one of the world's most exposed countries to climate change, and during the last decade, an estimated 700,000 people have been forced to leave their homes every year due to catastrophes and crises caused by a changing climate. Many Bangladeshi climate refugees end up in slums in Dhaka, the capital. The fieldwork will focus on Kamrangirchar, the biggest and most rapidly expanding slum in Dhaka. By interviewing climate refugees as well as activists, the field studies will highlight the new challenges people are facing while creating a life in Kamrangirchar and how climate change affects Dhaka as well.

The fieldwork on Bangladeshi social media activism will study how activists opposing the leading political party in Bangladesh interact and post on social media. In Bangladesh, posting content criticizing the regime can lead to fines or a prison sentence. On the other hand, the regime itself is very active on social media, spreading propaganda. The field study and upcoming article aim to portray the life of social media activists in Bangladesh and what it is like to work with social media in a country where there is a lack of freedom of speech.

Hannes E. Ahlström will research biking as a phenomenon in Mumbai. Although India, compared to other countries in the world, is home to many cyclists, the risks and accident rates are high. Throughout the country, and in Mumbai in particular, there are now initiatives among cyclists fighting for a safer commute and for biking to be a more popular transportation option. As part of his fieldwork, Hannes will interview the Mumbai bike activist Firoza Dadan, founder of the organizations "The Smart Commute" and "Cycle Chala City Bacha".

Browse and read more about all SASNET grants here.