“I have always felt that the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet. I like shorelines, weather fronts, international borders. There are interesting frictions and incongruities in these places, and often, if you stand at the point of tangency, you can see both sides better than if you were in the middle of either one.” – Anne Fadiman
This is why refugees, and particularly Tibetan refugees in Dharamshala, have so much to tell us. They are hinged, living presently while still waiting, hanging in limbo, living oxymorons as they are free. Tibetans. I’ve been doing a lot of photography browsing of the region I’ll be visiting: in-between globalization and tradition, Dharamshala reminds me of an ancient, mountain hilltop village from long before my time just as it reminds me of NGO’s, cosmopolitanism, and our global aid community. Plus, of course, the effect of the events of my time.
Fadiman is the author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. A work of cultural and medical anthropology, it is a huge inspiration for the methodology I’ve developed for RVP, in its attention to emotion, compassion, and the individual’s voice while always prioritizing research, therefore material that is sound for the classroom. I can only hope to produce something as delicately drawn. Or, rather, I can only work very hard.