Student Receives Yeh Award
We are pleased to announce Shakthi Nataraj as the most recent winner of the Jonathan T. Yeh Award for Student Scholarship in Asian and Asian American Folklore, presented by The Transnational Asia/Pacific Section of the American Folklore Society. The award aims to foster and promote graduate and undergraduate students in the early stages of their careers, encourage advanced scholarly research and publication on Asian and/or Asian American folklore subjects, and support AFS members who want to participate more actively in the Society. The $500 prize winner will be announced at the AFS annual meeting for the best student paper that contributes to Asian and/or Asian American folklore studies through research and analysis. It is expected that the award recipient will present his/her paper at the AFS annual conference.
Shakthi is completing her PhD in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research explores the way the figure of "transgender" has become a potent political symbol in Tamil Nadu, South India, for social actors ranging from popular tabloid writers to right-wing Hindu affiliates. She tracks the way activists and their interlocutors circulate different "texts of transgender”, in novels, poems, speeches, and jokes, both Tamil and English. By illustrating how historical fragments coalesce and dissipate as "transgender" flows in and out of social contexts, she shows that debates seemingly about sexual identity often condense broader political claims spanning many time periods, for transgender- and non-transgender identified persons alike.