The Nomad Research Unit (NRU) was founded in 2000 with the objective of studying the social transformations taking place in the societies where Nomad RSI works. This research aims, ideally, to enable better adaptation of the organisation’s activities to the social and epidemiological processes underway. Other forms of research have been gradually integrated into the programmes, to explore more broadly the dynamics at play in the reconfiguration of therapeutic spaces.
The NRU is characterised by the maintenance of a certain distance from the projects being implemented by Nomad RSI, which is important both for methodological and heuristic reasons. Studies are conducted by researchers contracted independently of the project teams, so as to limit bias, although the topics they study and questions they raise must resonate with the interests of the other teams within the organisation. Social science research within the NRU aims for the longest feasible field research periods, necessary for a clear understanding of social life and logics, but too often sacrificed in rapid field research methods such as PRA.
The Nomad Research Unit is a small, multidisciplinary research group (essentially anthropology, ethnobotany and agronomy) which is based upon an international network of researchers and post-graduate students. One of the main objectives of the NRU is the promotion of young researchers, who benefit from scientific guidance and having their first fieldwork experiences in a professional environment. Researchers are recruited on the basis of their scientific competence, the pertinence of their proposed work to contemporary academic debates, and the potential academic/applied value of the questions they raise. Each project must be integrated into one of the research axes of Nomad RSI, in order that it contributes synergistically to the other activities of the organisation.
The Nomad Research Unit encourages the wide dissemination of its findings both as publications and as conference presentations. It also organises and supports seminars and workshops, when the subject directly relates to the core interests of Nomad RSI.
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Sandra Bärnreuther won the South Asia Institute Award 2010 of the University of Heidelberg for her MA Thesis "Geburt in Ladakh. Theoretische Konzepte – gegenwärtige Praktiken – aktuelle Entwicklungen".
Calum Blaikie was awarded an Honourable Mention in the Charles Leslie Prize for the best paper by a young scholar, during the 6th Congress of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine (IASTAM), Timphu, 2009. Listen to his paper: "Critically endangered? Himalayan medicinal plants and diversity in Asian medicine".
Laurent Pordié won the Colleagues Choice Award of the ICAS Book Prize 2009, for the book "Tibetan Medicine in the Contemporary World" (Routledge, 2008), which he received during the 6th Congress of the International Convention of Asian Scholars, Daejeon, August 2009.
Stephan Kloos was awarded an Austrian Science Fund Stand-Alone Project Award from the Austrian Academy of Sciences (2008) and a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant (2007), for his research on Tibetan medicine in Indian exile.
Olivier Schmitz was awarded the Amades Prize 2004 for his thesis in Anthropology (Soigner par l’invisible, UC Louvain, 2003). The prize was presented on the 15th June 2004 in Paris, during an event organised by AMADES and Karthala Press.
Olivier Schmitz also received the 2004 Publications Prize of the Belgian University Foundation for a publication based upon his thesis.
Stephan Kloos received a Fulbright Award in recognition of his MA thesis at the University of Vienna, 2004.
Laurent Pordié received the Rolex Award for Enterprise 2000, Category Science and Medicine, in recognition of his applied research work in Ladakh. The award ceremony was held in New York in September 2000.
Laurent Pordié was awarded the "Yuthog Cup" for his paper "Tibetan Medicine: The Dynamics of a Bio-Cultural Object", presented at the International Conference on Tibetan Medicine, Lhasa, in July 2000. The Award was granted by the University of Tibetan Medicine, Lhasa (Tibet Autonomous Region) and the Chinese Medical Association for Minorities.
Culture, Health and Societies Research Centre (CReCSS), Université Paul Cézanne, France
The French Institute of Pondicherry, India
Royal University of Agriculture, Phnom Penh, Cambodge
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, UK
National Polytechnic Institute (INP), ENSIACET, Université de Toulouse
The above list concerns institutional partners and does not include those partnerships made with individual researchers and their institutions.