Fieldwork in Myanmar
I just returned from fieldwork in Myanmar, where we spent several days training staff and students at two different universities (Mandalay University and Yangon University of Foreign Languages) in fieldwork and data-gathering techniques. I also spent a week with the team in a village where a Palaung language is spoken (in the mountains of Shan State), conducting fieldwork with staff and students from Mandalay University's Department of Anthropology. We were able to get lots of great recordings of stories, histories, and explanations of cultural practices in the local language, with translations in Burmese.
This will be part of an ongoing collaboration with University of Zurich and these universities in Myanmar, where we are helping to build capacity and share our different kinds of expertise between these departments. There is still a lot of descriptive work that needs to be done among these language groups, and regarding their connections to larger Myanmar society. I'm still learning a lot about how Myanmar culture and language works (I'll be taking a Burmese language course at UZH in the coming semester), and I'm looking forward to working more with the universities in Myanmar in the future.
On some of our 'off' days, we went sightseeing in Yangon and in Bagan. While I'd been to the Shwedagon pagoda before, Bagan was a pretty incredible place (although possibly the hottest place I've ever been) simply because there are SO MANY temples and pagodas. Literally everywhere you look, if you have any kind of a view above the trees, you see a temple or a pagoda, or multiples of both. This time of year is not the best for visiting (so hot), and apparently you used to be able to climb more temples a few years ago, before the earthquakes made this dangerous, but it was still pretty amazing.
I'm a linguist and singer-songwriter. I write about life, travel, language and technology.