Thursday, February 18, 2010

Where in the World is Prof. Andrew Gardner?

Here's an update from Prof. Andrew Gardner. The photo shows Prof. Gardner and wife Kristen in Kathmandu, Nepal, where they met IPE alumni Cort Weber and Mandy Jacobsen. Mandy is cultural attache at the U.S. Embassy to Nepal and Cort teaches history at an international school in Kathmandu. (Astrid Gardner took the photo!) Here is Prof. Gardner's report.
I was recently in Nepal conducting fieldwork for a research project funded by Georgetown-Qatar's Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS). My grant was one of four awarded under CIRS's Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf program. The project I'm conducting is entitled "A Longitudinal Analysis of Low-Income Laborers in Contemporary Qatar," and this project has allowed me to closely follow ten low-income labor migrants through a year of their life here in Qatar.

My intention is to use this project to examine and explore how the problems and challenges typical in the experiences of these unskilled migrants unfold in their lives, while also mapping the strategies they deploy in their attempts to address those issues. The grant includes funding for three trips to visit with the families these Gulf migrants have left behind in South Asia.

Our recent trip to Nepal was the first of these three trips. Half of the ten participants in the project come from Nepal, and we were able to visit with all five of these families over the two weeks we spent there. Four of these five families live in the Terai, the agriculturally-rich but politically volatile low plain along the Indian border. The final family lives in the highlands above the Gurkha region.

Before departing for the countryside we spent a few days in Kathmandu, where we met up with Amanda Jacobsen (IPE '99), Cort Weber (IPE '99), and their lovely family. Amanda is the Cultural Affairs Officer at the American Embassy in Nepal. Cort teaches History, Geography and English at the American-curriculum Lincoln School in Kathmandu. While their guidance and advice proved essential in successfully navigating the many challenges we faced in conducting this fieldwork, it was also nice to cross paths with a pair of Puget Sound graduates on this side of the globe.

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