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ASIANetwork Grant Will Send Davidson Contingent to India

April 2, 2001
Contact: Bill Giduz 704/894-2244 or bigiduz@davidson.edu

India Group
(l-r) Yves Corbiere, Rebecca Essah, Katherine Rice Miller, Professor Job Thomas, Austin Cashman, and Rebecca Wilson (not pictured) will travel to India this summer to pursue research funded by a grant from the ASIANetwork.

Job Thomas, Professor of South Asian Studies at Davidson College, will lead five students to India for a month this summer as they pursue individual research interests in that country. Their trip is being funded by a $33,000 grant from the ASIANetwork Student-Faculty Fellows Program, sponsored by the Freeman Foundation.

Seniors Austin Cashman, Rebecca Essah and Katherine Rice Miller, and juniors Eve Corbiere and Rebecca Wilson, will live together at Madras Christian College in Madras, and work alongside Indian mentors to conduct research in subjects closely related to their personal interests.

"This trip is a logical and essential extension of their intellectual pursuits," said Thomas, who will direct the students' work in India. "I'm confident that the trip will be a success, because each student is at a stage in their research where they can move beyond the books."

Cashman will extend research done on her anthropology honors thesis, entitled "Goddess Symbolism and Female Status in Contemporary Indian Art," by working with artists, curators and students at the Cholamandal Artists Village and the Government College of Arts and Crafts in Chennai.

Corbiere, a center for interdisciplinary studies major in "Peace and Conflict Resolution," will study the cultural implications of the Satygraha peace movement, and Gandhian economics and conflict resolution at the Gandhigram Rural University.

Essah will interview working women in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors for a study on the conditions of working women in India.

Miller will pursue her interest in Christianity in India through study of Dalit theology and the condition of "untouchables," the lowest rung of the Indian caste system.

Wilson will combine her studies as a religion major and as an artist in a project investigating the manifestation of Hindu divinities in plastic forms, and the training and methods of Hindu sculptors.

Although none of the students have visited India before, they already have a strong grasp of Indian history as participants in Davidson's South Asian studies program, which Thomas said is the strongest among liberal arts colleges in the country.

Thomas noted that interest in India is growing, due to the country's ever-increasing role as a major player in world affairs. Many organizations and foundations have stepped up their support of India studies to increase intellectual understanding and awareness of that culture.

Founded in 1992, ASIANetwork is a consortium of more than 150 North American liberal arts colleges working to promote Asian studies through curriculum design, faculty development, study abroad programs, and grants and resource development.

Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson recently launched "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.

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