Meet the Fellows: 2017 Newcombe Fellow Emiko Stock

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. The 2017 class of Fellows includes Emiko Stock, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at Cornell University.

As I introduce my work to people, eyebrows always go up: Cambodia and Iran just happened in the same sentence, and that sounds very strange. I am asked to repeat or to “develop, please”. By now I have a polished answer, of course (or at least, I wish to claim…). Several lines come in the bundle: how ancestral connections between Southeast Asia and the Middle East have always been in the background of the regions’ histories; why hidden lineages have to be seen elsewhere in order to renew certain forms of relatedness; or even how Chams—just as many other human fellows—have always been inherently on the go, centuries on, where we least expect them. But sometimes I also have to admit to something else, much closer to the familiar and yet quite strange. While I have spent half of my life in Cambodia, my childhood years were spent in a neighborhood near Paris in France, where the population was in majority Muslim. Most of the community was from Maghreb, but there were many Iranians too, notably my next-door neighbors, who soon became the caretakers of this little me-self. In a hometown where Islam was all around, there was no reason for me to work on Islam or Muslims, it was all too normal and banal for sure… until I found unexpected familiarity in Cambodia among Muslims in a place that was not. As the connection to Iran emerged in the most recent years, it is to the little girl I once was that this yet-to-be dissertation project spoke. We often take anthropology as a quest for exoticism. Yet, for many of us, I think it is about a constantly renewed wonderment for things we think all too banal or all too normal.

Ms. Stock’s dissertation title is Touching History: An Anthropology With Images | Cham | Sayyids | Cambodia | Iran. For more information on the 2017 Newcombe Fellows and to see a list of their dissertation titles, click here.


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