THE Association for nepal
and himalayan studies

Celebrating 50 Years of Scholarship and Networking

AnHS Senior fellowship

The Senior Fellowship supports short-term research or other scholarly projects that will advance knowledge of the Himalaya-Karakoram-Hindukush mountain regions. Applicants must hold a terminal degree in their field (PhD, MFA, MD).

Suspended for 2019/2020 and 2020/2021

Past Winners

2018 Senior Fellowship Award Winner

The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies is pleased to announce the 2018 Senior Fellowship award winner, Dr. Stacy Leigh Pigg.

Dr. Pigg is a Professor of Anthropology at Simon Fraser University.

Project Title: Visualizing Bikas through a Graphic Narrative: “Batogato”—A collaborative research story about Himalayan lives & dreams, and road projects that promise to change them

Abstract: This research-creation project develops a graphic novel (a book that tells a story via drawings and text) representing local perspectives on road construction in remote districts of Nepal. The project is an experiment in genre/form for research reporting and public scholarship. The graphic narrative format offers an especially powerful way of telling a story through many voices and from multiple perspectives. A graphic narrative can thus give voice to underrepresented perspectives as well as mediate differing understandings among urban-based planners/policy makers, international donors, regional leaders, and local communities. The format can also convey experiences beyond local and national circumstances to increase international understanding of the Himalayan regional issues of mobility and rural development.

Roads are an important symbol of “development” in Nepal, as well as a crucial infrastructure enabling the movement of people, agriculture products, and commercial goods. Roads alter social experiences of remoteness, inclusion/exclusion, and opportunity. They are thus also deeply political projects. Real stories of how and where roads get built show how diverse motives, on the part of many actors, converge to determine which roads get built. They also beg the question: Who benefits from a road? The storyline juxtaposes descriptions of the infrastructure development process with real stories from people and about places along one particular road. Dr. Stacy Leigh Pigg spearheads the graphic narrative project, in a unique collaboration with Nepal-based artists and the researchers brought together through a multi-year research project on roads and the state (led by Katharine Rankin and Sara Shneiderman).

2017 Senior Fellowship Award Winner

The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies is pleased to announce the 2017 Senior Fellowship award winner, Dr. Jan Brunson.

Dr. Brunson is an Associate Professor in Anthropology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Project Title: It’s time: Negotiating biomedical, temporal, and embodied perspectives on the timing of birth in Nepal

Abstract: The revision of knowledge in the biomedical sciences is an expected part of how science operates. Recent debates on redefining “term” in obstetrics have highlighted how a commonly accepted scientific fact, a woman’s estimated date of delivery, is in practice shaped by multiple understandings about the timing of birth and subject to revision. Despite the ongoing capacity building and acquisition of high-tech equipment for offering cutting-edge management of pre- and post-term birth in Nepal, little attention in Himalayan studies has been paid to the enactment of high-tech medical care during pregnancy and birth. I propose to explore the standardization of time in obstetrics and its translation into practice in Nepal by analyzing the various perspectives that determine a woman’s ideal time of delivery: those of laypeople, doctors, and the scholars setting the guidelines. Through ethnographic research in a major hospital and the surrounding community, I aim to document Nepali health practitioners’ negotiation of multiple understandings of parturition and strategies for overcoming the challenges of pre- and post-term births in Nepal.

2016 Senior Fellowship Award Winner

The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies is pleased to announce the 2016 Senior Fellowship award winner, Dr. David Atwill, for his project titled Islamic Shangri-la: Tibetan Muslim Hybridity, Assimilation and Diaspora.

Dr. Atwill is an Associate Professor of History & Asian Studies in the Department of History at Pennsylvania State University.

Project Title: Islamic Shangri-la: Tibetan Muslim Hybridity, Assimilation and Diaspora

Abstract: In 1959, a dispute arose in central Tibet between Chinese authorities and Tibetan Muslims over their claim of Indian citizenship despite having lived in Tibet for centuries. The ensuing diplomatic row resulted in the exchange of dozens of diplomatic notes, letters and memorandums that ultimately ended with nearly a thousand Tibetan Muslims being admitted to India with Indian citizenship in late 1960. While the 1960 Tibetan Muslim Incident has been almost entirely forgotten, it underscores in a much more nuanced manner the limits that the non-alignment, anti-imperialism, and pro-Asian solidarity movements of the 1950s had shaped both nation’s euphoric post-independence/liberation period.

Precisely how the two governments seized upon the Tibetan Muslims in 1959 as the test case for these larger ethnic and citizenship questions is startling when one realizes that even as the Dalai Lama crossed over into India—thus sparking the Indian’s government interest in the Tibetan Muslims—the Tibetan Muslim’s precise history, position in Tibetan society, and transnational identity remained ambiguous and largely undocumented in Chinese, Tibetan and Western sources. This project seeks to delineate how Tibet’s dramatic ethno-religious landscape facilitated inter-regional interaction and thus explicitly undermines two central pillars of the externalist narratives of Tibet: the essentializing narrative in which all Tibetans are lumped together as some sort of heterogeneous yet monolithic whole, and the exclusionist narrative whereby all non-Buddhist groups are portrayed as permanently peripheral to all that is Himalayan.

2015 Senior Fellowship Award Winner

This is the sixth year of the ANHS Senior Fellowship Program and we received numerous excellent applications.

The award for 2015 is:

Dr. Richard Bownas, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Affairs for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado

Project Title: Maoist Model Villages and social transformation in post-conflict Nepal: a village based research study

Abstract: This research study aims to establish whether the period of social and political control of the Maoist guerrilla forces during Nepal’s civil war led to lasting changes in social structures, in particular structures concerning caste and gender. Specifically, the study will examine two villages in the Terai, one of which was a Maoist ‘model village’, where the Maoists had full political and social control for a number of years, and a demographically similar village nearby where the Maoists were not in control. The study will involve measuring discrimination practices in the two villages and investigating the micro politics of caste and gender in the two locations to find out whether Maoist political control has made an enduring difference in the model village in the nine years since the conflict period. The wider aim of the study is to investigate the conditions under which social transformation occurs in rural Nepal, using the Maoist model village as a lens through which to understand social change and the obstacles to structural transformation of enduring inequalities.

2014 Senior Fellowship Award Winner

This is the fifth year of the ANHS Senior Fellowship Program and we received numerous excellent applications.

The award for 2014 is:

Dr. Pasang Yangjee Sherpa from the Department of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University.

Project Title: Climate Change and Sherpas: Collaborative Problem Solving Project in Nepal

Abstract: The collaborative project brings researchers and Sherpa youths together in order to develop mutually beneficial collaboration in addressing local climate change effects in the Everest region of Nepal. This project works with the Environmental Graduates Himalaya (EGH), a group of graduate students and researchers interested in the Himalayas, and the Sherwi Yondhen Tshokpa (SYT), a group of Sherpa students from the region. The goals of this collaboration are: 1) to create a platform whereby both researchers and Sherpas can mutually benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience; 2) to build local, national and international communication networks for SYT based on EGH’s current model using emails and social media to broaden access to scientific knowledge and resources; and 3) to assist SYT in maintaining and operating their environmental library, equipped with the Internet and other communication technology, to further facilitate access and sharing of information. The need for the collaboration was realized after conducting an ethnographic research (2009-2012), and several consultation meetings with SYT and EGH in the summer of 2013. In December of 2013, support from the Wenner-Gren Engaged Anthropology Grant allowed us to further discuss with SYT and EGH and develop specific activities for the project. This project started in January of 2014 with support ($2000) from the Anthropology and Environment Society Small Grants Program of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). The ANHS fellowship, if received, will be used to cover my travel costs from the United States to Nepal and additional costs associated with activities for May-June, 2014.

2013 Senior Fellowship Award Winner

The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies is pleased to announce the 2013 Senior Fellowship award winner, Christie Lai Ming Lam, for her proposal titled Rural Coping Mechanisms: A Case Study of Socio-Economic Impacts of Remittances on Indigenous Rana Tharus in Far-Western Nepal. Congratulations to Dr. Lam! ANHS thanks Professor Paul Karan for chairing the Senior Fellowship Committee, and to the scholars who reviewed the many excellent research proposals submitted.

Dr. Lam is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, School of Human Sciences, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.

Project Title: Rural Coping Mechanisms: A Case Study of Socio-Economic Impacts of Remittances on Indigenous Rana Tharus in Far-Western Nepal

Research Abstract: This project examines socio-economic impacts of international remittances on indigenous Rana Tharus (hereafter referred to as Ranas). Indigenous communities worldwide have been increasingly impoverished due to the loss of access to forest resources, changes in landownership and the expansion of the monetary economy. However, the social implications of complex coping strategies that traditional communities use to diversify their means of livelihood have to date received only limited attention. This study is based on my previous analysis of the impacts caused by the establishment of Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, specifically on the livelihood system of indigenous Ranas in the far-western Nepal. Facing increasing impoverishment, seeking employment overseas has become the new livelihood coping strategy for Ranas. In this project, I will conduct an ethnographic analysis of the daily lives of Ranas who are working overseas, mainly in Malaysia (the second most popular overseas working destination for Nepali migrant workers). This detailed ethnographic information on Ranas from the migrant-host-country (Malaysia) and then matching them with my previous ethnographic data in the migrant-source-country (Nepal) will help explore the remittance patterns of the indigenous Rana community and the socio-cultural and economic implications at the local level of working abroad. Specifically, the study examines the role of remittances in income diversification strategies and how it reshapes Rana households’ cultural identity, inter-caste relations and social capital. More importantly, the study explores to what extent international remittance as a coping strategy can resolve poverty and lead to indigenous groups like the Ranas enjoying some degree of upward social mobility. Besides contributing to a better understanding of the current welfare status of indigenous Rana communities, this study allows us to better gauge the dynamic interactions between household coping mechanisms and the global economy.

2012 Senior Fellowship Award Winner

This is the third year of the ANHS Senior Fellowship Program and we received numerous excellent applications. Through this program, the ANHS Executive Council sustains the mission of ANHS and serves the research interests of our members.

The ANHS Senior Fellowship Program supports projects that will advance knowledge about the greater Himalayan region. The award for 2012 is:

Dr. Anna Marie Stirr, Assistant Professor of Asian Studies, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Project Title: Songs of Love and Revolution: Dreams of Social Transformation in Nepali Communist Songs

Abstract: This project is a social history and ethnography of Nepali communist musical production. Its theoretical focus lies on the mutability and interrelatedness of concepts of public and private, and the identifications and tensions between the intimate and the political, contending that music mediates these relationships in unique ways. Through a study of musical production across Nepal’s various communist parties (1960-present), I approach ideas of communism, love, and development as interrelated modes of aspiration, or ways of orienting self and society toward an imagined, better, future. I examine how individuals associated with different political parties and perspectives use song not only to express ideals but also to shape their social worlds. Asking how different strands of Nepali communist thought shape ways of imagining a transformative politics of love, I center my analysis on the role song plays in creating the intersubjective spaces for such imaginings.

2011 Senior Fellowship Award Winner

This is the second year of the ANHS Senior Fellowship Program and we received numerous excellent applications. Through this program, the ANHS Executive Council sustains the mission of ANHS and serves the research interests of our members.

The ANHS Senior Fellowship Program supports projects that will advance knowledge about the greater Himalayan region. The award for 2011 is:

Dr. Amanda Snellinger, Affiliate Scholar, The Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington

Project Title: Transfiguration of the Political: From Student Activist to Politician in “New Nepal”

Abstract: This project examines how Nepali political actors discursively negotiate international political values within their own political context. I will pursue research on Nepal’s ongoing constituent assembly and the role that the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has played in restructuring the Nepali state. Focusing on the issue of consensus, and the negotiations over secularism and ethnic and gender inclusion, I ask how this interaction is shaping a generation of politicians and the future of a nation-state. This project builds on previous research, in which I analyzed the local and international factors that have shaped a generation of Nepali student activists as they deposed the Hindu monarchy and ushered in Nepal’s democratic republic or, as they call it, “new Nepal.” A number of my key informants have progressed from student activism to the constituent assembly, serving in both elected and party-appointed seats. Analyzing their experiences on the constituent assembly will bring my research full circle as I switch my focus from the influence that party leaders and international actors have had on student activists’ developing political identity to the negotiation these student activists engage in with their party leaders and international actors in the constituent assembly process.

2010 Senior Fellowship Award Winner

2010 was the first year of the ANHS Senior Fellowship Program and we received several excellent applications. In order to highlight our broader mission and to better serve the research interests of our members, the ANHS Executive Council awarded two fellowships: one for Nepal and one for the high mountain regions of Asia outside Nepal.

ANHS hopes this award marks the beginning of a vital fellowship program to support projects that will advance knowledge about the greater Himalayan region. The awards for 2010 are:

Dr. Birendra Raj Giri, FELS/ChDL, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
Project Title: Bonded Labour Practice in Nepal

Dr. Sarah J. Halvorson, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Geography, University of Montana
Project Title: Com
munity Vulnerability and Response to Glacial Retreat, Bhutan


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