February 09, 2021

Mansingh Heimsath wins ASIANNetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows grant

Assistant Professor with Term Kabir Mansingh Heimsath has been awarded a $22,810 ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows grant.

This competitive program provides grants for teams of students and faculty to conduct a summer research project in East and Southeast Asia. Dr. Mansingh Heimsath’s project, entitled “Tourism, Roads and Development in the Borderlands of Nepal” will explore the massive expansion of feeder road construction in the highlands of Nepal. The team, which provisionally includes Lewis & Clark undergraduate students Leo Crespo-Cervantes, Shalini Hanstad, Rose Mayer and Catherine Pendleton-Wheeler (with one acting as alternate), will cooperate with organizations and individuals who have been involved with national policy, regional infrastructure development, and local tourism programs to answer several questions, including: why are these roads being built, who is making decisions, who is affected, and how?

As Dr. Mansingh Heimsath writes, “Infrastructure development, and in particular roads, is considered a priori beneficial in conventional development discourse. The mountain districts of Nepal, especially Solo-Khumbu, provide a graphic counter-point to this narrative. This region is already prosperous due to trekking tourism; which is predicated on a lack of roads…This project engages with local stakeholders to gain a more nuanced appreciation for the benefits and pitfalls of accelerated road-building as well as other forms of infrastructural connectivity.”

While there is the possibility that this project may be delayed due to the pandemic, the hope is that the team will embark on this research project beginning in Spring 2021. Dr. Mansingh Heimsath and the students will begin reading materials and preparing for their fieldwork this semester. In May the team hopes to travel to Nepal, where they will spend four weeks working with collaborators, conducting interviews, engaging in ethnographic field research, and documenting local transformation.

After the fieldwork is complete, the research team will share their work. Plans include writing a peer-reviewed paper for Himalaya, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies; preparing a report for the Niti Foundation, a Nepal based Non-Governmental Organization; producing a reflexive multi-modal unit on the fieldwork experience; and generating joint presentations and a “case-study” for use in Sociology/Anthropology courses.