Timothy Loh, doctoral student in HASTS, awarded dissertation fellowship from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation                                                                                                 Loh's project explores the relationship between assistive technologies, disability, and education

Timothy Loh, a fifth-year PhD candidate in MIT’s History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS), has been awarded one of 35 dissertation fellowships nationwide from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation

The fellowship provides $27,500 for projects related to the knowledge, understanding, and improvement of education. Loh is the fifth MIT student to receive the NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship.

Drawing upon theories and methods from medical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and the social study of science, Loh’s ethnographic research examines sociality, language, and religion in deaf and signing worlds spanning Jordan, Singapore, and the United States.

"I am grateful to the NAEd/Spencer Selection Committee not only for the financial support for this year of dissertation writing, but also for the validation of this award that the research I am doing is valuable and important, even at this early stage of the analysis,” says Loh.

Tentatively titled, “Entanglements of Language, Religion and Disability: The Politics of Assistive Technologies for Deaf People in Jordan,” his dissertation project explores the relationship between assistive technologies, disability, and education. It draws upon 15 months of anthropological research in Jordan to argue for the importance of situating scientific and technological advancements in their sociocultural contexts. 

"In particular, I examine how deaf Jordanians are engaging with new assistive technologies that have emerged in Amman in the last few decades, including cochlear implants (medical devices that provide their users with some electronic access to sound), provided through a state-affiliated initiative, and a sign language-centered mobile application, produced by a Jordanian-Syrian educational technology start-up.”

Loh’s dissertation elucidates the impact of various "assistive” technologies - medical-rehabilitative and non-medical alike - targeted at deaf people in Jordan, and is supported by fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Royal Anthropological Institute, the American Center of Research (ACOR) Jordan, and the MIT Center for International Studies. 

"I am looking forward to workshopping portions of my dissertation at the two Academy meetings over the next academic year with other scholars of education from diverse fields. I am thankful to my interlocutors in Jordan—without whom there would be no research—and to my dissertation committee for their continuous support. A special thank you to Prof. Fida Adely, my advisor during my master’s program at Georgetown University, who is not on my committee but graciously wrote me a recommendation letter for the fellowship.”