Steven Folmar (Ph.D., Case Western Reserve), is an applied cultural anthropologist whose main interests are in Medical Anthropology, Religion and Development. He has conducted fieldwork in Bangladesh, India, and the United States, but his primary, ongoing research interests are in Nepal, where he also conducts the Summer Program in Nepal. He is involved with the Center for International Studies, assisting with issues of cultural competency at Wake Forest. Finally, Dr. Folmar works closely with NGOs (he is on the Advisory Committee of the International Commission for Dalit Rights) and committees in Nepal to help Dalits pursue equal political and social status and relevant development goals.
A critical concern is also to assist Dalit and other communities in need to pursue development needs they identify as being needed. To that end, I help with raising funds and distributing them directly to such communities, empowering them to make their own decisions about how to use these funds.
|Folmar discusses the effects of the
earthquake with a man from Nepal.
|A young man reviews the informed consent
form for the Resiliency project
|Folmar distributes relief funds to the head
of a local “woman’s committee.”
For the past decade, I have increasingly focused on issues of identity and social justice for the Dalits, or “untouchable” castes of Nepal. To that end, I have concentrated on the micro-political processes of resistance to entrenched power in Nepal through tactics of identity politics and the politics of anonymity. In their struggle for social equality, Dalits have grappled with how to posit a group identity that can gain enough favor in the national debate on society in Nepal to advance their social and economic goals.
Continuing in this vein, recently, I have turned to the connections between caste status and mental well-being. To this end, I have conducted two research projects aimed at this issue, the second one, Oppression and Mental Health in Nepal (OMH), was funded for three years by the National Science Foundation. Currently with one paper under review, my co-PIs and I are preparing a paper that covers our major findings, that mental health status is best understood from an intersectional theoretical lens.
By now, it is common knowledge that Nepal has recently undergone a devastating disaster, in the form of a series of earthquakes and aftershocks beginning on April 25, 2015. Because we had collected mental health data on adolescents living along the edge of the earthquake zone through OMH, my co-PIs and I were ideally poised to study the effects of the earthquake on mental health. This study, Social and Psychological Resilience in Post-earthquake Nepal (Resilience), also funded by NSF, is still in process. Just back from the field, we were able to follow up on nearly 60 percent of our original sample and to collect 63 in-depth interviews.
Current and Recent Articles and Book Chapters:
2013 S. Excluded creator or victim of karma: contesting Dalit identity in Nepal. Studies in Nepalese History and Society 18(1):81-108.
2013 Problems of identity for hill Dalits and Nepal’s nationalist project. In Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict: Identities and Mobilization after 1990. M Lawoti, S Hangen, eds. New York: Routledge, 85-101.
2009 “You are the Clever One”: a semantic contest in a transient host/tourist community in Nepal. Southeastern Review of Asian Studies: 30:81-96.
2009 with G Palmes. Cross-cultural psychiatry in the field: collaborating with anthropology. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 48(9)873-876.
2009 Identity politics among Dalits in Nepal. Himalaya: 27:41-53. Also appearing in Dalits of Nepal: Towards Dignity, Citizenship and Justice, A Guneratne ed. Kathmandu: Social Science Baha, 73-107.
2008 The Sirubari village tourism project and local development. In Public Policy and Local Development: Opportunities and Constraints, PK Pradhan, D Wastl-Walter and S Folmar, eds. International Geographical Union, Commission on Geography and Public Policy, Kathmandu, pp 241-259.
Recent On-line Publications:
2015 with M Cameron, M Pariyar. Digging for Dalit: Social Justice and an Inclusive Anthropology of Nepal. Fieldsights – Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology Online, October 14, 2015, http://culanth.org/fieldsights/739-digging-for-dalit-social-justice-and-an-inclusive-anthropology-of-nepal.
2015 Discourse on Dignity. My Republica, October 7, 2015, http://www.myrepublica.com/feature-article/author/1271-stevenfolmar.html.
2014 Oppression, Mental Health and the House Science Committee. Neuroanthropology: http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2014/10/23/oppression-mental-health-house-science-committee/. October 13, 2014.
2013 with B. Heine (first author). Top-down development: a climate of uncertainty fuels forced displacement in Nepal’s push for road expansions. Truth-out.org: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18413-top-down-development-a-climate-of-uncertainty-fuels-forced-displacement-in-nepals-push-for-road-expansions. Sept. 9, 2013.
Recent Book Reviews:
2015 Development and Public Health in the Himalaya: Reflections on Healing in Contemporary Nepal, by Ian Harper. Himalaya. 35:140-142.
2012 Uncertain Tastes: Memory, Ambivalence, and the Politics of Eating in Samguru, Northern Kenya, by Jon Holtzman. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 34:96-7.
ANT 114 – Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
ANT 336 – Myth, Ritual, and Symbolism
ANT 362 – Medical Anthropology
ANT 387 – Ethnographic Research Methods
I currently am advising one student, Ansley Fennell, on her Honors Thesis in Anthropology. She represents the 15th student I have mentored as her primary thesis advisor.
I am active in advising students who seek sponsorship through a variety of on-campus and external funding sources, including the Richter and ACC-IAC fellowships.
Finally, I maintain and active cultural anthropology research lab, in which I work individually with students (7 to date) on a variety of research methods related to projects I conduct. These activities are highly integrated, that is, they blend with classes (especially Ethnographic Methods), the Summer Program in Nepal and my own research.