This project addresses the rapidly unfolding health, humanitarian, and socioeconomic crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic among communities of Himalayan New Yorkers who live and work at the epicenter of the current outbreak. Using daily auto-ethnographic video diaries, interviews, language mapping methodologies, and analysis of health messaging about Covid-19 from state, city, and community institutions as well as social media, this project responds to the SSRC call for research on how Covid-19 reflects social inequality and the uneven impacts across lines of race and ethnicity as well as the role of religious ideas, practices, and institutions in responding to the pandemic. So far, the most affected areas in New York are those that are most linguistically diverse. Drawing on anthropologies of global health and scholarship on migration, mobility, and diaspora with research on linguistic diversity and socioeconomic marginalization, our project asks how language and culture intersect with structural inequality to render a marginalized immigrant community, in a hyperdiverse urban context, “epidemiologically invisible” during a global pandemic. This project builds on long-term collaborations and relations of trust with members of the Himalayan New York community. Our research alliance has a proven track record of publications, funding, media impact, and visibility. This project leverages existing networks of community research associates and engaged scholarship; an ongoing language mapping project, itself emergent from a Languages of New York map and related research; ethnography conducted with Himalayan communities, both in New York City and in home countries; and the “Voices of the Himalaya” video storytelling project.
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College
Graduate Student, Linguistics and Anthropology, University of British Columbia
Nawang Tsering Gurung
Research Coordinator, Endangered Language Alliance
Co-Director; Assistant Professor, Endangered Language Alliance; CUNY Queens College & The Graduate Center
Co-Director, Endangered Language Alliance
Associate Professor of Anthropology and First Nations Languages, University of British Columbia