Search International Institute website.

CAW: "Childhoods at School: Negotiating Modernity, Social Change, and Identity in Ladakh, India."

Presented by Bonnie Richard, Department of Anthropology, UCLA

Wednesday, April 03, 2013
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
10367 Bunche Hall

In the rural, Himalayan region of Ladakh, India, it is difficult today to find a healthy child who is not attending school. Influenced by prevalent economic development discourse, it is common sense to Ladakhis that education in schools is crucial for achieving economic advancement, the hoped-for benefits of modernity, and general wellbeing. This attitude towards schools has been widespread among Ladakhis since the late 1990s, meaning that many children are among the first generation to attend school full-time. Drawing on data from ethnographic research with Ladakhi children and parents, I analyze the everyday complications and contradictions that schooling and developing one’s educated personhood present for children. My data show that Ladakhi children actively attempt to balance their desires for modern lifestyles with discourses lamenting the loss of traditional practices. Children struggle to embody a contemporary Ladakhi identity that incorporates the most socially and economically valued attributes of both the modern and the traditional. Familial obligations, which become increasingly consequential as they enter their teen years and begin seriously considering adult roles, can lead to friction with students’ individual hopes and dreams. For Ladakhi children, becoming an ideal educated person is a socially complicated endeavor for which pathways to achievement are not clearly marked.


The Central Asia Workshop is an interdisciplinary discussion group sponsored by the UCLA Program on Central Asia. The goal of the workshop is to encourage graduate student research on Central Asia by creating a space where students and interested faculty can discuss research, theory and ideas with others who have experience or interest in the region. The workshop is a forum for exploring recent research and classical and contemporary theoretical perspectives that inform work in Central Asia. Weekly discussions are led by members on a rotating basis, and topics are determined by group interests.

Meetings will be held on scheduled Wednesdays 12:00-1:30 pm.

Course credit for the workshop is now available under ANTHRO M287R with Dr. Nile Green for those who are interested.

For information about joining the Central Asia Workshop, contact Hannah Reiss at


Search International Institute website.