Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Fulbright Grants fund research abroad

Tanya Saunders will travel to Brazil in December to study the political implications of often divergent musical traditions in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo.

Tanya Saunders and Bruce Whitehouse, assistant professors in Lehigh’s department of sociology and anthropology, have received two prestigious Fulbright Grants to conduct research abroad.

They will use the grants to expand their current research through hands-on work on two continents. Whitehouse will work in the African nation of Mali this August, and Saunders will travel to Brazil in December.

Saunders, whose research focuses on culture and political participation in Cuba, plans to continue many of the themes of her previous research in Brazil. Her work will focus on the political implications of often divergent musical traditions in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, underlining the development of cultural and political participation in African diaspora communities.

The project, she says, is the second leg of what she hopes will be a three-part journey through these communities in the Western Hemisphere. From Cuba to Brazil to the American South, she intends to demonstrate through a trio of books on her travels that music in African diasporic communities plays a vital role in the joint development of a politically engaged community and shared cultural experiences.

Whitehouse will return to Mali, having already spent several years in the West African country, including a three-year stint with the Peace Corps in the 1990s, and a 2010 trip with Lehigh undergraduates. In August, he will return to Mali for the seventh time to study the intricacies of contemporary urban Malian marriage practices.

Whitehouse says marriage in Mali has been shaped by centuries of competing influences; colonialism, modern technologies, and the persistence of traditional practices are all factors in Malian society. One of the most puzzling aspects in Malian marriage tradition is the high rate of polygamous relationships—in fact, there are more polygamous unions in Mali than anywhere else on earth.

Working in the capital city of Bamako, along the Niger River, Whitehouse will survey attitudes toward marriage among a broad spectrum of residents. As part of his 10-month grant, Whitehouse will teach part-time at the University of Bamako, and hopes to incorporate his findings into an undergraduate class at Lehigh on marriage from a cross-cultural perspective.

Tannenbaum receives prestigious London appointment

In addition, Nicola Tannenbaum, professor of sociology and anthropology and director of Asian studies, was appointed the Numata Visiting Professor in Buddhist Studies at the School for Oriental and African Studies at the University of London for spring 2012, and is the first anthropologist and the first woman to be so honored.

During her time in London she hopes to explore ethnographic methods for thinking about Buddhism and religion at large, the Shan Diaspora, and the role of emotion in Buddhism. 

Judith Lasker, professor and chair of the sociology and anthropology department, says that the achievements of the department’s faculty are an honor that will enrich the department and its curriculum.

“Faculty members in our department have always had strong international research interests, but this emphasis has grown in recent years in tandem with the development of the Globalization and Social Change Initiative. We are especially pleased by the recognition and opportunity that these two Fulbright fellowships will afford,” she says.

Story by Elena Gambino

Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2011

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