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Anthropologist Manduhai Buyandelger wins the 2013 Levitan Prize in the Humanities

Associate Professor of Anthropology Manduhai Buyandelger happens to be awarded the James A. (1945) and Ruth Levitan Prize in Humanities, a $25,000 study grant that’ll support her ethnographic research of parliamentary elections in Mongolia, with specific increased exposure of the feeling of feminine candidates.

In announcing the honor, Deborah K. Fitzgerald, the Kenan Sahin Dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, remarked there had been “many exemplary proposals” with this year’s Levitan, the School’s top annual reward for research. “It is indeed a tribute to your level of cleverness and knowledge … your committee opted [this task] once the winner,” Fitzgerald penned in congratulating Buyandelger.

A task on Mongolian women and governmental power

“The Levitan reward will probably change my entire life,” Buyandelger says, “because I’ll be able to finish this task” — a book highlighting the “unconventional and imaginative methods” women political leaders in Mongolia have used to satisfy the challenges for the postsocialist age, while the ways in which women’s early electoral failures in Mongolia aided spawn a women’s motion truth be told there.

“During socialism, the state presented top-down methods of equalize the sexes,” Buyandelger says. “With the failure of this state, females were kept independently … and their particular marginalization at the top levels of politics became even more stark.”

Although ladies hardly ever secured election during Mongolia’s early democratic many years — women’s representation in the nationwide parliament never exceeded 8 per cent until 2012 — Buyandelger locates that failure aided spur the launch of the wide range of little nongovernmental businesses (NGOs) that advocated for women’s liberties.

“The individual fruits of the small NGOs in the end added to creating a new culture and awareness about sex problems,” Buyandelger claims. While the Mongolian NGOs would not always clearly come together, “in the end they collectively changed the perception of population regarding women in politics,” she says. “They additionally leveraged the government to designate an agency for attending gender issues.”

Travel to Mongolia

The Levitan reward will enable Buyandelger to travel to Mongolia to complete the investigation on her behalf upcoming guide, “One Thousand Tips to Parliament: Elections, Women’s Participation, and Gendered Transformation in Postsocialist Mongolia.” It’s going to be the next book for Buyandelger, that is really the only anthropologist in america dedicated to Mongolia. The woman very first guide, “Tragic Spirits: Shamanism, Memory, and Gender in Contemporary Mongolia,” was released because of the University of Chicago Press in November 2013.

“Buyandelger explores how individuals and groups translate, withstand, and accommodate these drastic socioeconomic changes, by both reviving conventional social methods and generating new ones,” says Professor Susan Silbey, who heads the Anthropology Section. “In ‘Tragic Spirits’ [she papers] the revival of shamanism into the change from Soviet communism to liberal capitalist subjects.”

A documentary film on Parliamentarian Burmaa Radnaa

Buyandelger claims she also intends to utilize the Levitan Prize to complete a relevant documentary film, “Intellect-ful ladies,” centered on the experiences of Burmaa Radnaa, a Mongolian politician she shadowed during 2008 campaign. The film should provide a wholly unique perspective from the election process. “There are extremely few researches of females political leaders in anthropology,” says Buyandelger, who was afforded unusual usage of top parliamentary politics while shadowing Radnaa every day.

After Radnaa destroyed the 2008 election, she took the woman case to courtroom alleging ballot fraudulence — and won. And, although the court couldn’t award the lady a chair, the publicity surrounding the outcome aided earn both the girl and her celebration a fair shot at election in 2012. Because of this, Radnaa is providing being a person in parliament.

“The movie concentrates on Burmaa’s extraordinary analytical skills and mercurial but nuanced methods of thinking and resolving dilemmas,” Buyandelger wrote in her own Levitan Prize application. “Against the commercialized elections and party politics in which sites and cash pave most of the street to parliamentary seats, Burmaa won a seat with limited resources however with much reasoning. The woman electoral strategies are embedded, mainly, inside her intellect.”

The Levitan Prize reward ended up being founded through the gift through the belated James A. Levitan, a 1945 MIT graduate in biochemistry, who had been additionally a person in the MIT Corporation and of counsel within attorney of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom of the latest York City. The reward, initially granted in 1990, supports innovative and innovative scholarship into the humanities by professors users in MIT class of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.


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