Katherine Bowie Establishes Thai Studies Funds

Professor Katherine Bowie

Over the past several months, Professor Katherine Bowie, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies, has donated $60,000 to support the study of Thailand at the UW-Madison. This endowment fund will be housed in the University of Wisconsin Foundation and will be administered by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. Building on earlier donations by the Thai Alumni Association and the Royal Thai Embassy, this fund is intended to support a wide range of initiatives and activities (on and off campus) related to our program’s long-standing commitment to the study of Thailand.

Since her arrival at UW-Madison in 1988, Professor Bowie has been at the forefront of our Center’s activities, having served as Director on two occasions, 2001-02 and 2011-14, and having mentored a large number of MA and doctoral students, not only in Anthropology but in a wide range of disciplines. Her academic accomplishments and leadership have been most recently evidenced by her election as President of the Association for Asian Studies (2017) and by her appointment as Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at UW-Madison (2017). These honors clearly indicate the esteem in which she is held by her peers at this university and across the globe. In addition to her commitment to her many students, Katherine is widely acknowledged for the many contributions she makes to her discipline and to Thai studies. Her most recent book, Of Beggars and Buddhas: The Politics of Humor in Vessantara Jataka in Thailand, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2017.

The “Thai Studies Fund” will take its place alongside the Center’s two other endowment funds, the Southeast Asian Studies Fund established through a Mellon Foundation challenge grant (1991-1993) in support of language instruction and our Center Fellowships and Field Research Grants for graduate students in all fields of Southeast Asian studies, and the Judith L. Ladinsky Memorial Fund, established in 2014 in support of Vietnamese studies at UW-Madison.

Katherine sees her gift as just the beginning and hopes to encourage others to contribute to its growth or, as she puts it: “the endowment fund has a long way to go before it reaches a goal of $1 million.” Please join us in expressing our deep appreciation for Katherine’s immense generosity and commitment.