[Note: Every summer we ask faculty in the department to tell us about their summer activities. Here’s Denise’s reply]
A few days after turning in grades for spring semester, my two kids (ages 14 and 7) and I headed to China. It had been ten years since I finished fieldwork in Rgyalthang (also known as Shangrila), in China’s southwest corner and on the southern reaches of cultural Tibet. I had returned in 2009 but not to conduct research; this time I had a research agenda, protocol, and lots of questions. It was great to be able to reconnect with the doctors I had worked with earlier. Overall I wanted to explore areas of change in the practice of Tibetan medicine at the Tibetan hospital in town. I discovered that there is a brand new, slightly oversized (to my sensibilities) Tibetan medicine hospital that has been constructed (although it is not open yet). I found out which medicinal materials are much more difficult to obtain now than they were ten years ago, and discovered that people in Rgyalthang now suffer from disorders of eating too much, according to at least one Tibetan doctor. It’s not only that some people are overweight, Doctor Ma explained to me, but that many simply eat too much, which disturbs proper digestion. I plan to write up some of my findings, as soon as I work my way through them. In November I will be presenting at AAA in San Francisco on the difficulties of cultural relativism when it comes to children’s health in the field and, perhaps not so unexpectedly, my daughter was sick for part of the time we were there so that added to my (research) concerns!
For summer fun, we have been working on our house (re-roofing…well, not many would say it’s that much fun actually….), visiting with family and friends, and playing music. Last week we spent a few days up on glorious Lasqueti Island in B.C. with friends (my good friend Dana Lepofsky and her family—Dana is an archaeologist and works with First Nations in Canada). The band that I’m in, Rosin in the Aire, has been busy this summer as well with gigs and practices—and for me, with website design and venturing into the use of social networking. An exciting day was hearing our music played on 90.7 KSER—next stop is KUPS!
Enjoy the rest of summer.