Long, Mary Kate: Travel Grant - 2017-2018

Graduate School
Asian Studies
Project Title: 
Language Study and Pre-Dissertation Research
Project Abstract: 
I seek financial support for a combination of Burmese language study and pre-dissertation fieldwork in nunneries in Yangon, Sagaing and Shan State, Myanmar. My research involves the anthropological study of the overlapping material and ethical relationships that surround and animate Buddhist institutions in Myanmar. Studies of Buddhist women tend to focus on monasticism, to identify female empowerment as dependent upon or instrumental to men’s spiritual progress, and to defer to a social hierarchy that benefits monastics over lay people and men over women. Observing the informal dynamics of friendship in this context will reveal relationships that contest and reimagine Buddhist social formations and institutional structures. A site-based ethnographic focus on the spatial dimensions of relationships will demonstrate institutions’ embeddedness in diverse social, political, and economic landscapes. After completing a ten day intensive Burmese course, the objective of my summer research is to identify the specific nunneries in which I will conduct my dissertation fieldwork.