Prof. Mona Bhan Cited in Indian Magazine
August 8, 2011
August 8, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — "Nobody knows of their real origin or if they are indeed Aryans. But, regarded as long-lost members of a purebred 'Master Race' settled in the Himalayas, Brokpas attract curious visitors," begins a story in OPEN, a weekly magazine published in India. Shubhangi Swarup writes, "Typecasting Brokpas as 'exotic' has been so overdone, however, that even Mona Bhan, an anthropologist studying the community for almost a decade, is weary of speaking about them. 'I have been quoted out of context by journalists and filmmakers who visit Brokpa villages with the sole purpose of realising their own fantasies of a pure Aryan race,' says the assistant professor of anthropology at DePauw University, Indiana, U.S., 'a fantasy deeply rooted in our persistent yet unspoken obsession with race as a marker of identity and otherness.' "
The text adds, "The theory claiming Brokpas to be Aryans, says Bhan, is a legacy of the British, who were deeply invested in racial categorisation for purposes of exercising authority, not just marking identity. She is currently writing a book that explicitly tackles this complex relationship between race and colonial governance."
"Several Company Orientalists, scholars who worked for the colonial enterprise, played an instrumental role in popularising perceptions of Aryanism in the Northwestern Himalayas," Dr. Bhan tells the publication. "They based it on an ill-conceived framework that conflated racial frameworks of identity with the region’s ‘distinctive’ linguistic features. Since certain languages spoken in the Northwestern Himalayas were thought to share similarities with other Indo-Aryan languages, the speakers of these languages were also categorised as Aryans."
The complete piece is available online at the magazine's website.
Learn more about Professor Bhan in this previous article.