Timothy Y. Loh
| 罗宇乐 | تيموثي لوه |
I am a sociocultural anthropologist-in-training in the Doctoral Program in HASTS (History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society) at MIT, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States. My current research draws upon medical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and science and technology studies to study deaf and signing communities in Jordan and the broader Middle East, and I am advised by Stefan Helmreich, Elting E. Morison Professor of Anthropology. I am also a Graduate Fellow in the Language and Technology Lab directed by Graham Jones and Beth Semel. My doctoral research examines how advancements in assistive technologies of various kinds (medical-rehabilitative, like hearing aids and cochlear implants, and non-medical, like cellphones and mobile apps) affect how deaf people in Jordan conceive of themselves as deaf—or not—and the role of religion (both Christianity and Islam) in Jordanian interactions with these technologies. I am currently conducting dissertation fieldwork in Amman, where I am also the 2021-22 Sijal Scholar at the Sijal Institute for Arabic Language and Culture—please reach out if you are around!
As a hearing researcher of deaf communities and a non-Middle Eastern scholar of the Arab world, I am committed to reflexivity in my methodological and theoretical approach. I am also interested in refugee and migrant movements in the Middle East, in addition to the history and anthropology of Arab Christianity in historic Palestine, particularly in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Recently, I conducted some research on sign language and the deaf community in Singapore. I am a Young National University of Singapore (NUS) Fellow affiliated with Anthropology at Yale-NUS College for AY2020-22, as well as a member of the American Anthropological Association and of the VL2 Student Network at Gallaudet University. My research is supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Royal Anthropological Institute, the MIT Center for International Studies, and the NUS Development Grant.
In 2021, my paper, "Mother Tongue Orphan: Multiculturalism and the Challenge of Sign Language in Singapore," received the Honorable Mention for the Society for East Asian Anthropology Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper. In 2020, my paper, "Language in Medical Worlds: The Politics of Hearing Technology, Speaking, and Arabic for Deaf Children in Jordan," was awarded the Graduate Student Paper Prize by the Middle East Studies Association and received the Honorable Mention for the Student Paper Award from the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association, and a revised version was published recently in Medical Anthropology.
Upcoming and ongoing
January 19: Presenting "Translanguaging fieldnotes: observing Jordanian Sign Language (LIU) interactions and the complexities of Arabic orthography" at Mobilising Methods in Medical Anthropology, RAI
March 3-4: Presenting "Disability discourses, sign language, and the production of rights-bearing deaf citizens in Jordan" at Disability at the Intersection of History, Culture, Religion, Gender, and Health, Marquette University
March 6-9: Workshopping "lughat al-’umm/‘arabi mukasser: competing discourses about Jordanian Sign Language (LIU) in Amman" at New Directions in the Study of the Arab World Graduate Student Workshop, NYU Abu Dhabi
September 19: Presenting "Disability discourses, sign language, and the production of rights-bearing deaf citizens in Jordan" at Politics of the Middle East (POME) Seminar Series
Date TBD: Presenting at Digital Forays in Middle Eastern Studies: Lightning Talks from Junior Scholars, NYU Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies
I hold a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (Culture & Politics) and a Master of Arts in Arab Studies, earned in an accelerated degree program at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. At the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown, I studied with Rochelle Davis, Fida Adely, and Sylvia Önder, and took classes at Gallaudet in sociolinguistics and deaf studies through the Consortium. I was also a Kathryn Davis Fellow for Peace (Arabic) in the summer of 2016.
Before returning to academia, I worked for Collateral Repair Project through the MENAR Fellowship, taught Middle Eastern history and introductory Chinese at King’s Academy, and coordinated Project SHINE for the LEAP Program. In my free time (hah!), I sing with Boston Found in the Massachusetts area and with Mosaica Singers in Amman, and I am an occasional sign language interpreter. I was born and raised in Singapore, which I still call home. I am proficient in Levantine Arabic, American Sign Language (ASL), and Mandarin Chinese, and high-intermediate in French.
Loh, Timothy Y. 2018. “‘Maybe Jesus Knows Sign’: Resistance Through Identity Formation.” Journal of Belonging, Identity, Language, and Diversity (J-BILD) 2 (1): 25-37.
Loh, Timothy Y. 2016. “Freedom Through Art: Cartoons in Gaza’s Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children.” Pardee Periodical Journal of Global Affairs 1: 69-87.
Loh, Timothy Y. 2016. “Digitizing Refugees: The Effect of Technology on Forced Displacement.” gnovis: A Journal of Communication, Culture & Technology 16 (2): 49-58.
Panelist for Well-being and Living Well: Ethnographic Approaches to Health and Disability in Contemporary Jordan, American Center of Research (ACOR) Jordan, March 2021
Panelist for COVID-19’s Impact on Displaced Communities, Singapore University of Social Sciences, June 2020
Guest speaker for Lan Li, HIST 353 Histories of Sensation, Rice University (upcoming)
Instructor, ANTH 310/MENA 310 "The Science of the Human": An Introduction to MENA Anthropology, jointly offered by Sijal Institute and Amideast Jordan (upcoming)
Please contact me if you would like to see a syllabus.
Guest speaker for Canay Özden-Schilling, SC 3211 Science, Technology & Society, National University of Singapore
Graduate Teaching Fellow, 24.133 Experiential Ethics, MIT
Guest lecturer for Amahl Bishara, ANTH 0027 Human Rights and Justice in Cultural Context, Tufts University
Guest speaker for Anny Gaul, ARAB 499D Gender and Difference in the Arab World, University of Maryland College Park
Guest speaker for Steve Monroe, YSS 3231 Methods in the Social Sciences, Yale-NUS College
Guest lecturer for Beth Semel, 21A.151 Language, Communication, and Culture, MIT
Teaching Assistant to Lauren Bonilla, 21A.00 Introduction to Anthropology
Guest speaker for Lan Li, HIST 353 Histories of Sensation, Rice University
Guest lecturer for Beth Semel, 21A.151 Language, Communication, and Culture, MIT
Teaching Assistant to Amah Edoh, 21A.501J/STS.074J Art, Craft, Science, MIT
Teaching Assistant to Franco Rossi, 21A.500J/STS.075J Technology and Culture, MIT
Guest lecture, Disability and "Assistive" Technology
Teaching Fellow, The Middle East in a Global Context, King's Academy (Jordan)
Apprenticeship in Teaching (AT) Program, Georgetown University
Teaching Philosophy Statement, April 2016
Sample Syllabus: ANTH 340 Deafness as Cultural Experience, March 2016 (designed, not taught)
Thanks to Chris Walley and Chris Boebel's class, DV Lab: Documenting Science through Video and New Media, I have also dabbled in ethnographic film. A Different Medium was made in spring 2019, and focuses on hearing students of American Sign Language and how they negotiate their position as ethical learners of the language and their relationship and responsibilities to the Deaf community.
Wellbeing and Living Well: Ethnographic Approaches to Health and Disability, ACOR Jordan Insights, June 2021
Graduate Fellow Timothy Loh awarded fieldwork grants, Language and Technology Lab News, June 2021
MAAS on the Move, CCAS Newsmagazine, Spring/Summer 2021
Profile: Meet Timothy Loh, doctoral student in MIT HASTS, MIT SHASS News, November 2019
Republished as Uncovering the role of technology and medicine in deaf and signing worlds, MIT News, December 2019
Q&A with Timothy Loh (MAAS ’16), CCAS Alumni Spotlight, conducted July 2018, published November 2019
Sign Language Co-Curricular: King’s Academy Students Open Their Ears to the Deaf, The Rexonian, February 2018
#TogetherForHope Campaign (video), Lush Singapore, June 2017
Timothy Loh Explores Research on Deaf Education in Middle East, SFS News, April 2017
MAAS Student Timothy Loh Named Davis Fellow for Peace, CCAS News, April 2016
You can reach me via email at timloh at mit dot edu or contact at timothyyloh dot com. You can also use the form below.
Want to learn more about getting a PhD in anthropology (especially at HASTS)? Please reach out, especially if you are BIPOC, international, first-gen, or from an otherwise disadvantaged minority group. I recently gave a talk about applying to graduate school (in spoken English, with captions), and I recommend reading the following to learn more about graduate school:
Sample Statements of Purpose (Duke University)
Tips for Applying to the Sociocultural PhD Program (Columbia University)