My research interests can be grouped into four main clusters.
First, as a linguist and anthropologist, I have spent many years studying issues of language and cultural practice across the Himalayan region. A background in anthropological methodology and theory and a rigorous training in field linguistics inform my work. My deepening interest in the Himalayan region has also taken me to Bhutan and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, where I researched contemporary Nepali wage labour migrants, and later to Sikkim, where I directed the first modern linguistic survey of this small Indian state in partnership the local government and a Sikkimese research institute.
Second, through my long-term fieldwork in the Himalayas, I have become increasingly interested in how insights derived from academic research can inform legislative policy. Since 2003, I have worked as an occasional consultant for the World Bank, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the various UN agencies. Projects have included drafting the first inclusive multilingual education policy for Nepal, advising the Government of Nepal on the linguistic rights of its citizens and assessing the impact of sustainable ecotourism in Tibet. In 2007, I was asked to create and direct the Translation and Interpretation Unit in the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), a special political mission mandated by the UN Security Council to support Nepal’s peace process.
Third, I am committed to innovation in teaching methods and to developing research partnerships with students. In my teaching, I seek to create a rich instructional experience for students at all levels. In recognition of this, I was nominated as the Anthropology Associate for academic year 2009-2010 by C-SAP, the national subject network for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics funded by the UK Funding Councils for Higher Education.
The final component of my life as a scholar is designing and directing larger research projects and initiatives. I co-founded the Digital Himalaya Project in 2000, which has since then developed from its origins as an academic research project into an integrated, open scholarly portal for connecting knowledge about the Himalayan region. I have worked as a fieldwork coordinator and anthropologist on a large, international and multi-disciplinary research project funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, jointly based at Leipzig University and Tribhuvan University in Nepal. From 2009, I have directed the World Oral Literature Project, tying together my enthusiasm for fundamental research at the intersection of anthropology and linguistics, a commitment to building a wider scholarly community through supporting the research of others, and a passion for engaged anthropology that reaches an audience beyond the academy.