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biggspc

South Asain Studies - Bhutan

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I searched everywhere, but I can't find a single professor in the US that focuses on Bhutan. i want to get a graduate degree in South Asian Studies, but I want my focus to be on Bhutan. Is this impossible? Does anyone know of any universities that have someone who specializes on Bhutan?

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Because it is so tiny in size, I do not know of any specialist in Bhutan who are in Academia. I'm sure there are a few experts in the government. Perhaps you might have to expand your boundaries to "South East Asian" specialists or "South China" specialists.

Something strategic to do would be to either read major academic articles on Bhutan and e-mail the authors - asking for advice on where to go to school OR e-mail professors who study South East Asia and ask "Can you handle a focus on Bhutan? Or do you know anyone who can?"

Its possible that someone who is a Bhutan expert is also a Chinese expert, Nepal expert, or Indian expert and will also be able to help you.

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Hey, thanks for the quick reply! I'm curious as to why you think professors of SEA would be able to offer something that professors of south east asia can't. I actually work for a Southeast Asian department right now and am very interested in the area. However, I've always thought that focusing on Bhutan necessitated studying South Asia.

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Have you tried searching for scholars who research GNH or strictly Himalayan studies?

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Do you speak and read Dzongkha? If not, your biggest issue is finding somewhere where you can learn it. If you were working on Bhutanese history, my recommendation would be to look for scholars working on Tibet, since historically Bhutan has been heavily influenced by Tibet, and the language is more closely related to Tibetan than any other language that very many people study (and historically, Bhutanese wrote a language fairly similar to classical Tibetan). But if you want to work on modern Bhutan, I think you'll have trouble finding any academics who can be of particular help: your best bet would be to find some way to learn Dzongkha (if you haven't already), and then go anywhere with a relatively good South Asian Studies program. You'll probably have to be even more self-directed in your research than most grad students, but if you're up for that, best of luck!

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I do not speak Dzongkha yet, but I have acquired a basic text designed for building verbal skills. It's meant to be used in conjunction with a tutor, so I'm not sure how much use it'll be to me. It is however the closest I've gotten to finding a way to learn Dzongkha in the US. As far as Tibetan, there is actually a monastery near me that offers a once weekly course in colloquial Tibetan. I've shied away so far because I can't imagine it's very comprehensive.

With regards to your second question, my interest is very much on the modern state. I almost wonder if Anthropology might be a better field for me than South Asian Studies. I know plenty of anthropologists that have done fieldwork in academically uncharted waters. I wouldn't want to lose sight of the economic and political aspects of Bhutan though (Anthropology tends to be frustratingly qualitative for my taste).

Edited by biggspc

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I suggested SEA studies instead of South Asian Studies partly because I know nothing about South Asia, as my specialist is East Asia/Japan haha. BUT With China and Nepal so close, its possible there might be a specialist floating around out there in that field. But an Indian or Tibetan specialist might be more informed as well.

There may not be a scholarly department of "Bhutanese Studies", but some schools do have Tibetan studies. You can ask around there too!

Good Luck!

(Another option, as well, is to do as you said - Anthropology studies and the such, and then apply for fieldwork in Bhutan)

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Thanks for the great advice everyone! Would anyone happen to know what schools are considered to be the strongest in general himalayan studies? I know UVA and Columbia have good connections, but does anyone know any others?

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