Owen M. Lynch (1931-2013) was an anthropologist and scholar with New York University who was noted for his pioneering work with the Dalits, or "Untouchables," in India. He earned his bachelor's degree from Fordham University (1956) and his Ph.D in anthropology from Columbia University (1966). He began his teaching career in 1966 as an assistant professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He became the Charles F. Noyes Professor Emeritus of Urban Anthropology at New York University in 1974 where he remained until his retirement in 2003.
His first fieldwork experience was with the Munda Languages Project in Madhya Pradesh, India, in 1962. His involvement with the project centered around work with the Nihali and Nahali languages. In 1963, he began fieldwork among the Dalits in Agra. He worked with the Jatavs, many of whom were shoemakers. This fieldwork would evolve into his dissertation, and form the basis for his first book The Politics of Untouchablility, published in 1969. He continued to study the Dalits and other marginalized peoples in India, including the Dharavi slums in Mumbai, Chaube Brahmans in Mathura, and the Radhavallabhi sect in Brindaban. He wrote extensively about the impact of Dalit leader B.R. Ambedkar, as well as the intersections of Buddhism, politics, and economics within India and the Dalit community.
The papers of Owen M. Lynch document his research and field work in India, and in particular highlight his work among the Dalits in Agra. The collection consists of field notes, surveys, interviews, maps, drawings, manuscript notes and drafts, language materials, subject files, day planners, correspondence, university papers, conference symposium and panel materials, photographs, sound recordings, video recordings, and electronic records. The Munda Languages Project was Lynch's first fieldwork experience in India and focused on the Nihali and Nahali languages. His subsequent research focused on the Dalits in Agra, the Dharavi slums of Mumbai, the Chaube Brahmans in Mathura, and the Radhavallabhi sect in Brindaban. Lynch also kept extensive subject files on numerous Indian issues which contain significant material on the Dalits, Indian economics and politics, and related researchers. There is a small amount of Lynch's university papers from both his time as a student and as a professor. The bulk of the photographs are from Lynch's fieldwork, primarily from Agra and Mumbai. The majority of the sound recordings are from fieldwork in Agra in 1994-1995, and include lectures, interviews, conference recordings, and songs.
Owen M. Lynch papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Ambedkar, B. R
Buddhist pilgrims and pilgrimages
Language and languages--Documentation
NAA MS 2013-11
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