Dr. Stirr, who holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from Columbia University, is Associate Professor in Asian Studies at UH-Manoa. Her book Singing Across Divides examines how forms of love and intimacy are linked to changing conceptions of political solidarity and forms of belonging, through the lens of Nepali dohori song. The book describes dohori: improvised, dialogic singing, in which a witty repartee of exchanges is based on poetic couplets with a fixed rhyme scheme, often backed by instrumental music and accompanying dance, performed between men and women, with a primary focus on romantic love. Dr. Stirr examines how dohori gets at the heart of tensions around regional, ethnic, caste, and gender differences within Nepal, as it promotes potentially destabilizing musical and poetic interactions, love, sex, and marriage across these social divides.
The Cohn Prize is named to honor the distinguished South Asia scholar, Bernard S. Cohn. Books nominated may address either contemporary or historical topics in any field of the humanities or the social sciences related to any of the countries of South Asia: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal in the spirit of Dr. Cohn’s broad and critical scholarship on culture and history in South Asia. The prize will be presented at the AAS annual conference in Denver in March 2019.