Announcing the Recipient of the ILA DALMIA FICA RESEARCH GRANT 2018 | Rigzin Chodon

The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) is pleased to announce that the Ila Dalmia FICA Research Grant 2018 has been granted to scholar Rigzin Chodon for her project titled Hand-made Sketches from the Early-20th Century Newspapers of Ladakh and Kyelang: A Study of Kyelang Agbar and Ladvags Phonya (1925-35; 1936-47 & 1952-59 A.D.).

The jury for the grant consisted of Belinder Dhanoa, Assistant Professor,School of Culture and Creative Expressions, AUD; Parul Dave Mukherji, Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU; Yashodhara Dalmia, art curator and critic; and Vidya Shivadas, Director of FICA.

Rigzin seeks to study the rich visual archival material populating the Kyelang Agbar &Ladvags Phonya newspapers from the early to mid-20th century in the Himalayan belt with the aim of collating them into a book. These monthly newspapers published at the Kyelang Mission House in Lahaul and Leh Mission House (between 1936-1947 and 1952-1959) were full of new ideas and expressions with evangelical messages and secular news from around India as well as the world. They encouraged new forms of expression by enabling budding local writers to publish their works and experiment with form and content.

Building on her PhD and other research work in this field, which range from exploring literary writings in newspapers, to the language shifts that took place in these publications and historically relevant information on the history of Ladakh and Kyelang, Rigzin is now keen to delve into the visual materials carried into the public domain. She intends to study the hand-made sketches from these newspapers that highlighted the socio-cultural currents of the time of publication. Treating them as historical documents, she will explore the visual representation of the people of Ladakh and the cultural exchanges that were taking place between this Himalayan region and the West.

The jury noted that this research grant will help Rigzin build on her already existing research on Ladakhi English literature and the emergence of print media in the Himalayan belt. They appreciated her work with primary sources and collating rich archival material to explore the question of languages, region and complex identity formations in Ladakh. They noted that this research will contribute to our understanding of aspects of the visual culture of the region, about which there has been little study, while also offering a layered analysis on the imagination produced in a language sphere at a particular historical juncture, whose ambit of reference was not contained within the regional but extended to address the national, international and transnational. 

About the Recipient:

Rigzin Chodon works as a Research Associate at the Ladakh Arts And Media Organization, Leh. She has worked on research project titled, ‘Impacts of Education driven Urban Migration on Youth Aspirations and Identity in Ladakh’ under Prof. Sara Smith, University of North Carolina, in collaboration with LAMO (2017 onward). She is part of the editorial team for the International Association for Ladakh Studies (2016 onwards) and also a Sahapedia Projects Fellow 2017-18.

She has recently been awarded her doctorate (2018) for her thesis titled, ‘Language, Politics & Identity: Study of Missionary Newspapers in Ladakh and Kyelang (1908-10; 1927-35; 1936-44& 1952-59 A.D.) ’from the Centre for English Studies; School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.  

Image Courtesy: Edited Asboe.Rev. Walter. Kyelang Agbar. No. 30. April.1930