The Britain Nepal Academic Council (BNAC)’s PhD Dissertation Prize 2021 is awarded to Dr Amy Leigh Johnson and Dr Kumud Rana for their PhD dissertation chapters ‘Before Belonging: Settler Emplacement in the Farwest Tarai’ and ‘Transnational AIDS networks, regional solidarities and the configuration of male sexuality in Nepal’ respectively.
In her chapter Amy, who was awarded her PhD from Yale University, ethnographically illustrated how everyday gendered practices of domestic livelihoods accompanying basai-sarai are critical for understanding the affective dimensions of settler claims to the state in the context of competing politics of belonging. Similarly, Kumud, who was awarded her PhD from the University of Glasgow, analysed the critical influence of transnational HIV/AIDS networks and resources on the identity categories used within the Nepali lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement in the early 2000s.
A panel of judges from the BNAC comprising Dr Jeevan R. Sharma, Dr Ben Campbell, and Ms. Sapana Bista Basnet, awarding the first place to Amy’s paper, commented, “This is an excellent piece of ethnographically situated writing that offers intriguing discussion into belonging through active practices and transformations of domestic livelihoods in Kailali. The discussion is theoretically sophisticated and brings compelling texture to everyday practices of belonging in the broader context of a layered history of mobility.”
Similarly, awarding the second place to Kumud’s paper, they said, “Her work critically explores dynamic contemporary processes of discursive production around rights concerning gender and sexuality at the interface of externally supported social activist organisations and street level vernacular processes, which brings into view histories of exclusion and marginality in Nepali society.”
The panel awarded the third place and an honourable mention to Dr Hannah Uprety of the University of Münster, Germany for her article ‘The Governmentality of Nepali Labor Migration. Governing Migrant Subjectivities and the Transnational Marketization of Labor’.
There were altogether 11 high-quality submissions for the award. PhD students and recent graduates (within two years of graduation) from the social sciences or the humanities, registered in universities anywhere in the world and conducting research about Nepal or the Nepali cultural world, were eligible to take part in the competition by submitting a chapter or paper from their PhD research.
The prize, worth £250 to each winner, was awarded at a function during the 18th Nepal Study Days in UCL London on 23 April 2021.
The BNAC Chair Dr Krishna Adhikari said: “The dissertation prize was set up in 2017 to encourage and reward excellent research chapters or papers by a PhD student or recent PhD graduate. Since 2020 we have increased the number of prizes and from this year we have expanded the regional scope covering all the countries in the world. Since we have got good feedback, we will continue the prize for coming years. We welcome feedback and suggestions.”