Women in Science - Why Dr Kikee Doma Bhutia became a researcher?

As part of ‘Women in Science’ theme week, two Asia Centre’s research fellows open up about why they have chosen the profession of researcher. The first ‘speaker’ is Dr Kikee Doma Bhutia.  

Kikee Doma Bhutia is a research fellow at the Asia Center, Tartu University. Her PhD dissertation explores the symbiosis of institutional Buddhism and indigenous beliefs in the Himalayan region. Currently, her research interests include delving into border security conflicts, ethnic identity, geopolitics, and political conflicts in the Himalayas. Specifically, she explores marginalized communities caught in the confluence of global issues like environmental threats, indigenous beliefs, and geopolitics. 

Here is her reasoning of becoming a scientist and perspective on the benefits of being one: 

When I was four years old, anthropologist Anna Balikci visited our village to conduct ethnographic research. During her research, she visited our village frequently and soon wrote her thesis, which was published later (Lamas, Shamans, and Ancestor: Village Religion in Sikkim 2008). Today her book is considered to be classic when it comes to studying village life or Buddhism in Sikkim. Her research documented the rituals, events, and everyday life of the villagers in my village more than twenty years ago, but today the village has transformed. Ideally, researchers document these time travels to be able to determine when, how, and what changes were made. Twenty years later, I approached her with the interest of doing the same. Despite my credibility and competence, she mentored me, and introduced me to critical thinking, and how to read and write an article.  

As a result of her patience and support, I am now a researcher myself. Although getting a PhD degree was my only goal, along the way I gained a better understanding of myself and of life around me, had the opportunity to travel, meet new people, experience things beyond my imagination, and most importantly support other women like me to do the same. Being a researcher in that context means supporting other women in their quest for knowledge. Thus, the benefits of being a researcher include creating a sense of self; building camaraderie, expanding one's vision, and contributing to and preserving the continuities of mundane life that threaten to eliminate knowledge and wisdom. 


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