The papers of Owen M. Lynch (1931-2013) contain his research and fieldwork on marginalized castes in India, and in particular highlight his work among the Dalits, or Untouchables, 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.
Scope and Contents:
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. This research is represented well in his field notes, photographs, and sound recordings.
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. His student material includes reading notes, his student papers, and dissertation proposal. His university papers are chiefly course and lecture notes. The bulk of the photographs are from Lynch's fieldwork, primarily from Agra and Mumbai. Included are photos of slums in Agra and Mumbai, shoemakers in Agra, weddings, ceremonies, conferences, and parades. There are also prints used in his first book The Politics of Untouchability. The presentation slides are thematically arranged sets of photographs, presumably used for course lectures or conference presentations. The majority of the sound recordings are from fieldwork in Agra in 1994-1995, and include lectures, interviews, conference recordings, and songs.
The Owen M. Lynch papers are arranged into 13 series:
2. Research, 1956-2006
3. Subject Files, 1953-2012
4. University, 1951-2010
5. Writings, 1963-2005
6. Writings By Others, circa 1950-2003
7. Correspondence, 1947-2010 and undated
8. Professional Activities, 1977-2004
9. Biographical, 1945-2007
10. Ephemera, circa 1990-circa 2000
11. Photographs, circa 1940s-circa 2009 and undated
12. Sound Recordings, 1962-2006
13. Video Recordings, circa 2000-circa 2011
14. Electronic Records, circa 1980-2011
1931 -- Born on January 4 in Flushing, New York
1956 -- B.A., Fordham University
1962-1964 -- Fieldwork: Munda Languages Project, Madhya Pradesh, India
1964-1964 -- Fieldwork: Dalits in Agra, India
1966 -- Ph.D. in anthropology, Columbia University
1966-1969 -- Assistant Professor, State University of New York at Binghamton
1966-1986 -- Seminar Associate, Columbia University Seminars
1969-1973 -- Associate Professor, State University of New York at Binghamton
1970-1971 -- Fieldwork: Squatters in Mumbai, India
1974-2003 -- Charles F. Noyes Professor Emeritus of Urban Anthropology, New York University
1978-1984 -- Senior Research Associate, Southern Asian Institute, Columbia University
1980-1982 -- Fieldwork: Pilgrimage and Chaube Brahmans in Mathura, India
1988-1989 -- Fieldwork: Radhavallabhi Sect in Brindaban, India
1994-1995 -- Fieldwork: Dalits in Agra, India
2013 -- Died on April 26 in Boston, Massachusetts
Owen M. Lynch was an anthropologist and scholar with New York University who was noted for his pioneering work with the Dalits, or Untouchables, in India. He was born in 1931 in Flushing, New York. 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.
Lynch was active in numerous anthropological associations. Among other professional appointments, he served on the editorial boards of South Asian Social Scientist (1984-1987), the Association of Asian Studies (1973-1977), and the International Journal of Hindu Studies (1997-2013); he was chair of the South Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies (1985-1988) and president of the Society for Urban, National and Transnational Anthropology (1996-1998). He was also involved with groups such as the Volunteers in Service to India's Oppressed and Neglected (VISION), and was an active participant on conference panels and symposiums. He retired from teaching in 2003, and died in 2013.
2014 Owen M. Lynch (1931-2013). American Anthropologist. 116(4): 898-900.
The collection was donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Owen Lynch's niece, Maureen Murphy, in 2013.
Some material related to scholarship applications, job applications, and doctoral applications and defenses are restricted and not available for access. Restriction dates are noted in the container listing.
Access to the Owen M. Lynch papers requires an appointment.
Photographs documenting Tibetan monasteries, Potala Palace, Tibetan women, cities, and scenery in Central Tibet, including the region's capital, Lhasa. Prints are in a boxed set issued by the Imperial Russian Geographical Society (Russkoe geograficheskoe obshchestvo).
G. Ts. Tsybikov was a Russian-educated Buriat scholar and a Buddhist who made a pilgrimage to Lhasa in 1899-1902. He documented his pilgrimage in photographs and made extensive notes on Tibetan society and politics. In May 1903, he presented his photographs and report to the Geographical Society, which won him the society's Przhevalskii prize. Ovshe M. Norzunov was a Mongolian Kalmuk who also traveled to Tibet as a Buddhist pilgrim, in 1989, 1900, and 1901. Because of their Mongolian heritage, Tsybikov and Norzunov were able to enter Lhasa at a time when Western visitors were barred from the city. Their photographs, published in the January 1905 issue of National Geographic, are noted for having created the magazine's "hallmark" photographic focus.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 76-122
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Digital surrogates of a similar set of photographs are held by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries.