|Ms. Amy Hyne is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Texas (UT), Austin. She received her M.A. from this same department in 2009 and her B.A. in psychology and French from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2006. Though her primary research language is Sanskrit, Ms. Hyne also studied Hindi for five years, with three years as a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow. She has worked as a Sanskrit teaching assistant and also as a research assistant doing manuscript collation and editing. As an outreach volunteer for the South Asia Institute at UT, she has helped developed syllabi for K-12 classrooms and has given presentations on Indian culture and history at local elementary and middle schools. She also has served as the representative to the Graduate Student Assembly for the Department of Asian Studies for the past two years. She is primarily interested in researching early Indian religious history and cultural constructions of health and illness in ancient and medieval India.
Ms. Hyne’s Fulbright research project, “Cultural Constructions of Madness in Pre-Modern India,” will investigate the history, development and cultural constructions of “madness” in India through the lens of Sanskrit and Hindi texts. The project will include a word study, an historical analysis and a collection of interviews. The word study will focus on determining the semantic ranges of unmatta and pāgal, Sanskrit and Hindi terms most often translated into English as “mad” or “insane.” The historical analysis will question how these terms were used to serve various social, political and religious ends, and the final part will involve interviews with modern religious practitioners and medical personnel who engage with constructs of “insanity” in various ways.