Fulbright Stories
For the Deeper Meaning

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Cornell, and my time as a Fulbright researcher in Thailand has profoundly shaped my long-term interests and commitments. During Fulbright, I had the opportunity to pursue an ethnographic research project about the livelihoods and experiences of migrant lottery ticket sellers who often travel back and forth between Bangkok and their home provinces in northeast Thailand, and through this project I also learned more about the ethnically diverse communities who live in Isan.


Later,I worked as a research assistant at the Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre (SAC) in Bangkok, and I was able to return to the northeast to assist with the planning and implementation of an SAC Field School program based in Surin province about community-led approaches to safeguarding forms of intangible cultural heritage,including kantrum music, silversmithing, traditional medicine practices, and silk weaving.

 My passion for learning about forms of art, craft, and material and visual culture, and the political, cultural, economic, social, and historical aspects of their production and consumption, led to my current dissertation research on the multifaceted significances of silk weaving among Khmer-speaking communities in Surin. I focus on silk to think about how its processes of creation also produce different kinds of subjects and relationships among subjects, from silkworms to looms to teacher spirits to human beings. I am committed to public scholarship and accessible forms of knowledge sharing that center and respond to the desires of the co-producers of knowledge, such as the silk makers who I have learned from in Surin. In the future, I hope to continue to explore possibilities for collaborative public work, like exhibits, hands-on learning events, and multimedia projects.


Alexandra Grace Dalferro, or Nong Lek as we love to call her, received a Fulbright award in 2009 for her research in Anthropology at Southeast Asian Studies Program, Chulalongkorn University. We were impressed with her strong passion in ethnography and her successful cultural immersion. She did not just learn to speak different Thai dialects natively but also became one of the community members. We are proud and delight that Fulbright could contribute something to Nong Lek’s meaningful endeavour and very much looking forward to hearing more of her success story.