Timothy Y. Loh, PhD

| 罗宇乐 | تيموثي لوه |

I am a sociocultural anthropologist whose current research draws upon medical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and science and technology studies to study deaf and signing communities in Jordan and the broader Arabic-speaking Middle East. Beginning fall 2024, I will be a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows and Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and the Humanities Council. I earned my PhD from the Doctoral Program in HASTS (History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society) at MIT, where I was advised by Stefan Helmreich, Elting E. Morison Professor of Anthropology, and was a Graduate Fellow with the Language and Technology Lab, co-founded by Graham Jones and Beth Semel. My dissertation, "Entanglements of Language, Religion, and Disability: The Politics of Assistive Technologies for Deaf People in Jordan," examines how assistive technologies that have emerged in Jordan in recent decades—specifically, the cochlear implant and a sign language mobile application—have shaped and continue to shape disability’s contours and manifestations in the region today. 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.

My broader research program ethnographically examines the politics of deafness and disability across multiple national contexts; to that end, I have conducted some research on signed languages and deaf communities in Singapore and the US as well. I maintain interests in the history and anthropology of Arab Christianity in historic Palestine, in addition to refugee and migrant movements in the Middle East, both of which I imagine researching one day. I am the Student Representative (2022-25) for the Middle East Section and the contributing editor for the section column in Anthropology News. My research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council (United States), the Royal Anthropological Institute, the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation, the MIT Center for International Studies, the American Center of Research (ACOR) Jordan, the Social Science Research Council (Singapore), and the NUS Development Grant, among others.

In 2023, my paper, "al-lugha al-’umm/‘arabi mukassar: Competing Discourses about Jordanian Sign Language (LIU) in Amman," co-won the John Gumperz Graduate Student Essay Prize from the Society of Linguistic Anthropology. 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. I presented a truncated version of the paper as part of the AcademiaSG Singapore Studies Junior Scholars Seminar the next year. 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, and a revised version was published in Medical Anthropology.

Upcoming and ongoing

In addition to a Master of Science in HASTS from MIT, earned along-the-way, 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 University 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 (now defunct) 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, conversational in Jordanian Sign Language (LIU), and have a passive understanding of spoken and written French.







Fall 2024

Summer 2024

Spring 2024


Spring 2023

Fall 2022

Spring 2022

Fall 2021

Summer 2021

Spring 2021

Fall 2020

Spring 2020

Fall 2019


Apprenticeship in Teaching (AT) Program, Georgetown University


Through the SAPIENS Public Scholars Training Fellowship, I reported for SAPIENS Podcast S7 E4 "Moving Through Deaf Worlds," a story about deaf migration that features the journey of a deaf Jordanian friend who moved to Japan where he now lives with his wife. The episode is in spoken English and includes a transcript as well as an ASL summary on the episode webpage.

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.


Curriculum Vitae

Loh Academic CV

Contact and Resources

You can reach me via email at timloh at alum dot 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)? I gave a talk about applying to graduate school (in spoken English, with captions) in 2021, which includes a few tips and suggestions as well as some of my own personal journey—which I also discuss at length here. In addition, I recommend reading the following to learn more about graduate school:

If you're interested specifically in HASTS, please know that the department holds a Prospective Student Visit Day every year, typically in October. I offer some tips for writing the Statement of Objectives in this short clip (in spoken English, with captions) from the 2023 Visit Day, and check out this blogpost (Dec 2021) from stellar alum Crystal Lee as well. If you have questions that are not answered in these resources, please feel free to reach out, especially if you are BIPOC, international, first-gen, or from an otherwise disadvantaged minority group.