Friday, January 20, 2006

Excitement about Research and Film Ideas!

Preparation for India and for the research there is going well. Between financial, mental, and academic preparations, this semester really
is focused on going to Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj, doing quality research, and putting together a quality film.

First a couple quick personal notes. Recovery from the surgery is going really splendidly, though a church tubing activity last night at Soldier Hollow (cross country skiing venue for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games) had me worried for a little while. I'm getting back into the swing of things and could be back to playing ultimate as soon as the 28th! I've been getting back into school mode as well, and that's required some effort to find balance. Long blog posts like the last one have intimidated me and probably kept me from coming back for the past two weeks. So we're going to take baby steps to keeping this thing updated regularly - small and consistent.

The most exciting development in my preparation for India is my research topic, germinating from a discussion with BYU's International Study Programs coordinator, Dave, and from some readings for my senior-level anthropology theories class. The conversation with Dave put a fire in my belly for thinking about the father- or grandfather-son cultural differences in Tibetans living in a community that's had plenty of Western focus and attention. All that attention likely means influence, and influence means change. Given the great malleability of youth relative to that of older individuals, there would likely be a number of differences between generations raised in "modernizing" India and those raised in traditionally reserved Tibet, and representing those differences - and the struggle to reconcile them - in one family might present some compelling and involving content.

Then readings for another course started me thinking about the concept of home - a topic I've been interested in all my life, but more in an emotional than academic way. Filming these men in their home setting might give me insights not just about a vague (and, quite frankly, obvious) "modernization" of culture, but more specifically about the nuances and semantics of the word "home" in Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj Tibetan populations. Moreover, I wonder about the same concept in North African populations in Paris, northeastern Brazilians in Sao Paulo, or New Orleans hurricane refugees in Chicago. Methodologies are obviously a challenge with this kind of research on the internal workings of culture, which of course I worry about. But I think presenting this as a film will make it accessible, and hopefully those watching will find something of themselves in my work.

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