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Sara Shneiderman is a socio-cultural anthropologist working in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, India and China (especially the Tibetan Autonomous Region). Her research addresses the relationships between political discourse, ritual practice, cultural performance and cross-border migration in producing contemporary ethnic identities. A native of Washington, DC, she received her PhD (2009) and MA (2004) from Cornell University, following a BA with Honors from Brown University in both Anthropology and Religious Studies (1997).

Her doctoral dissertation was an ethnography of the Thangmi, entitled Rituals of Ethnicity: Migration, Mixture and the Making of Thangmi Identity Across Himalayan Borders. It explored how this Himalayan community of approximately 40,000 resident in Nepal, India and China communicate with each other across state borders in a ‘feedback loop’, which provides the momentum for the ongoing reproduction of Thangmi identity. She has also published several articles on the broader themes of Nepal’s Maoist movement and political consciousness; ethnicity, ethnic classification and affirmative action; ritual and religious practice; and gender, agency and identity. Multimedia technologies form a core part of her ethnographic methodology, and she is a founding member of the Digital Himalaya Project, based at the Department of Social Anthropology in Cambridge.

She is currently involved in a three-year British Academy UK-South Asia parternship scheme project entitled “Inequality and Affirmative Action in South Asia: Current Experiences and Future Agendas in India and Nepal”. She is also working on a monograph about the cultural politics of cross-border Thangmi identity, and developing a manuscript on Thangmi ritual texts in collaboration with Nepali colleagues.

At Cambridge, she lectures for the POLIS paper on the History and Politics of South Asia (Int 8), and has supervised for Social Anthropology papers on Colonialism and Empire (S7) and Development (S10). She also supervises post-graduate students with interests in the anthropology of ritual and religion, ethnicity and nationalism, migration and transnationalism, politics and civil society, development, borders and border peoples, gender, conflict and violence, and Himalayan, South Asian, and Tibetan area studies.

In the past, she has served as a Teaching Fellow at the Cornell-Nepal Study Program, and as Adjunct Faculty at the School for International Training College Semester Abroad, both in Kathmandu, where she taught courses on Research Methods and Ethics, and Nepali History and Society. She has also taught a course on Myth, Ritual and Symbol at Cornell.

Last modified 2nd May 2011