- Collection ID:
Lynch, Owen M., 1931-2013
Collection is primarily in
, Some field notes, questionnaires, correspondence, writings by others, and sound recordings are in
- Physical Description:
National Anthropological Archives
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
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
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:
Subject Files, 1953-2012
Writings By Others, circa 1950-2003
Correspondence, 1947-2010 and undated
Professional Activities, 1977-2004
Ephemera, circa 1990-circa 2000
Photographs, circa 1940s-circa 2009 and undated
Sound Recordings, 1962-2006
Video Recordings, circa 2000-circa 2011
Electronic Records, circa 1980-2011
Born on January 4 in Flushing, New York
Fieldwork: Munda Languages Project, Madhya Pradesh, India
Fieldwork: Dalits in Agra, India
Ph.D. in anthropology, Columbia University
Assistant Professor, State University of New York at Binghamton
Seminar Associate, Columbia University Seminars
Associate Professor, State University of New York at Binghamton
Fieldwork: Squatters in Mumbai, India
Charles F. Noyes Professor Emeritus of Urban Anthropology, New York University
Senior Research Associate, Southern Asian Institute, Columbia University
Fieldwork: Pilgrimage and Chaube Brahmans in Mathura, India
Fieldwork: Radhavallabhi Sect in Brindaban, India
Fieldwork: Dalits in Agra, India
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
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.
Friedlander, Eva 2014
Owen M. Lynch (1931-2013).
American Anthropologist. 116(4): 898-900.
The organization of the papers of Owen M. Lynch has for the most part been retained. Original folder titles were used when appropriate. The archivist has used the current name of the city of Mumbai except in instances of use where Bombay is in a formal title. A small amount of duplicates, photocopied articles, blank disks, financial documents, and widely available publications have been removed.
The archivist has assigned numbers to the negatives and sets of slides in the photographs series, and to each sound recording in the sound recordings series.
Processed and encoded by Adam Fielding, 2015.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Owen Lynch's niece, Maureen Murphy, in 2013.
Some Aspects of Rural-urban Continuum in India. In
Anthropology on the March. Bala Ratnam, ed. Pp. 178-205. Madras: The Book Center.
The Politics of Untouchability: A Case Study. In
Structure and Change in Indian Society. Milton Singer and Bernard Cohn, eds. Pp. 209-239. Chicago: Aldine Press.
The Politics of Untouchability: Social Mobility and Social Change in a City of India. New York: Columbia University Press.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar: Myth and Charisma. In
The Untouchables in Contemporary India. J.M. Mahar, ed. Pp. 97-112. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press.
Method and Theory in the Sociology of Louis Dumont: A Reply. In
The New Wind: Changing Identities in South Asia. Kenneth David, ed. Pp. 239-262. The Hague: Mouton.
Potters, Plotters, and Prodders: Marx and Meaning or Meaning Versus Marx. Urban Anthropology VIII(1):1-27.
Rioting as Rational Action: An Interpretation of the April 1978 Riots in Agra. Economic and Political Weekly XVI(48): 1951-1956.
Culture and Community in Europe: Essays in Honor of Conrad M. Arensberg. ed. Delhi: Hindustan Press.
Pilgrimage with Krishna, Sovereign of the Emotions. Contributions to Indian Sociology 22(2):171-194.
Divine Passions: The Social Construction of Emotion in India. ed. Berkley: University of California Press and Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Contesting and Contested Self-identities: Mathura's Chaubes. In
Narratives of Agency: Self Making in China, India and Japan. Wimal dissanayake, ed. Pp. 74-103. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Dalit Buddhism: The Liberate Bodh Gaya Movement. Dalit International Newsletter 3(1):1,4,10-11.
Sujata's Army: Dalit Buddhist Women and Self-emancipation. In
Women's Buddhism Buddhism's Women: Tradition, Revision, Renewal. Ellison Findly, ed. Pp. 247-258. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
Ambedkar Jayanti: Dalit Reritualization in Agra's Civil Society. Eastern Anthropologist 55(2-3):115-132.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Conditions Governing Access
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.
Owen M. Lynch papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
National Anthropological Archives
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