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Bonnie O. Richard

Contact Information

Email    brichard@ucla.edu
Office  384 Haines

I am a socio-cultural and medical anthropologist interested in how shifting notions of wellbeing influence the experiences of children and teens, both in their own everyday practices and future goals, as well as through parents’ and families’ priorities in raising their children. 

Right now, I am exploring these issues in a context of economic development in Ladakh, an underserved, rural, minority region which lies along India’s northernmost-borders with China and Pakistan. Unlike previous generations, education now holds immense importance for the socialization and development of Ladakhi young people. The ideology that links children’s schooling to future wellbeing has become common sense. Despite this, youth’s pathways are uncertain: they must become educated modern persons yet still honor traditional family obligations, all while facing growing socioeconomic equality and an increasingly precarious job market.

After an intensive period of ethnographic research in 2011-12, I have been tracking two dozen adolescents through annual follow-up visits to Ladakh and through social media. This is producing a longitudinal data set on Ladakhi youths’ trajectories, clarifying how the new priorities for education and changing views of the “good life” eventuate in adult realities. This project builds on theory in both educational and medical anthropology, contributes methodological insight that crosses typical sub-disciplinary boundaries, and magnifies the importance of research with children and youth for exploring major questions in the social sciences on societal change, globalization, and individualization. 

Fields of Study

Sociocultural Anthropology and Medical Anthropology


Anthropology of children and youth; educational anthropology; medical anthropology; wellbeing; economic development; families and individualization; social change; parenting; childhood disability; mixed-methods; Ladakh & the Himalayas; Central Asia


2014 - “Families, well-being and inclusion: rethinking priorities for children with cognitive disabilities in Ladakh, India.” Childhood. 10.1177/0907568214526264 http://chd.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/05/07/0907568214526264.abstract

2012 - "'Communities' in Community Engagement: Lessons Learned from Autism Research in South Africa and South Korea." Autism Research 5. (with RR Grinker, N Chambers, N Njongwe, AE Lagman, W Guthrie, S Stronach, BO Richard, S Kauchali, B Killian, M Chagan, F Yucel, M Kudumu, C Barker-Cummings, J Grether, and AM Wetherby) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3552431/

2009 - Book review of: Reconstructing Motherhood and Disability in an Age of Perfect Babies by Gail H. Landsman. Anthropological Quarterly 82(3): 837-842. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2063866 

2007 - "Treaty Councils and Indian Delegations: The War Department Museum Collection." American Indian Art Magazine 33(1):66-80. (with C Greene, BO Richard, and K Thompson) http://www.aiamagazine.com/volume/142

2007 - Book review of Disability in Local and Global Worlds, ed. by Benedicte Ingstad and Susan Reynolds Whyte. Anthropological Quarterly 80(4):1203-1207. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30052781

Grants and Awards

2011-2012 - UCLA International Institute Fieldwork Fellowship

2010-2011 - Graduate Research Mentorship, UCLA

2010 - Graduate Summer Research Mentorship, UCLA

2009 - UCLA Department of Anthropology Research Grant

2009 - Graduate Summer Research Mentorship, UCLA

2008-2009 - Graduate Division Fellowship, UCLA

2008 - Institute for Ethnographic Research short-term research grant, George Washington University

2007 - Visiting Scholar Award for Excellence in the Humanities and Social Sciences, College of William and Mary Graduate Research Symposium

2006 - Lewis Cotlow Field Research Grant, GWU

Conference Presentations

2013 - "Negotiating the Future in Ladakh, India: Youth Agency, Educated Identity, and the Politics of 'Traditional' Culture." American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL.

2013 - "Ladakhi, Indian, and Educated: Negotiating 21st Century Identities and Futures in the Western Himalayas." UCLA Program on Central Asia: Identity and Place in Contemporary Central Asia. Los Angeles, CA.

2013 - "Childhoods at School: Negotiating Modernity, Social Change, and Identity in Ladakh." International Association of Ladakh Studies Conference. Heidelberg, Germany.

2013 - "Childhoods at School: Negotiating Modernity, Social Change, and Identity in Ladakh, India." Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group Annual Meeting. San Diego, CA.

2012 - "Uncharted Childhoods: Parents' Hopes and Children's Responsibilities in Ladakh, India." AAA Children and Childhood Interest Group Annual Meeting. Las Vegas, NV 

.2010 - "Fractured Families and Mother Blame: Caring for Disabled Children in the Western Himalayas." American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting. New Orleans, LA.

2010 - "Impure Bodies: Childhood Disability in the Western Himalayas." AAA Children and Childhood Interest Group Annual Meeting. Albuquerque, NM.

2009 - "Transformations of Personhood in Mothers' Narratives of Autism," with Roy Richard Grinker. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting - Philadelphia, PA.

2007 - 'Coping and Cure-seeking: Parents' experiences with disability in Ladakh, India.' Lewis Cotlow Field Research Conference, George Washington University - Washington, DC.

2007 - 'Parents and Disability in Ladakh: Coping, Cure-seeking, and Awareness.' College of William and Mary Graduate Research Symposium - Williamsburg, VA.


Nancy E. Levine
Linda Garro
Thomas Weisner
Edith Mukudi Omwami (UCLA GSEIS)


B.A. Theology, Oral Roberts University (2002)
M.A. Anthropology, George Washington University (2007)
Doctoral Candidate, University of California Los Angeles (2011)