Joan A. Kleinman Travel & Language Grant: Anne Lheem (2020)

January 17, 2023
Photo of Anne Lheem at Harvard graduation

The Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant is made in memory of Joan A. Kleinman, a scholar of Chinese language and literature and co-researcher with Dr. Arthur Kleinman of projects in medical anthropology. Joan Andrea Kleinman was committed to language as the basis for cultural and international studies and developed Chinese fluency only after her initial graduate studies in French. The goal of this grant is to promote language acquisition for use in the service of global health research. The language acquisition aspect of the summer research project may involve formal coursework or informal tutoring.


One or two annual awards are made to support summer field research and language learning outside of the United States in East Asia: China (including Hong Kong), Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. This grant supports research on the broadest aspects of health, illness and social suffering. Anne Lheem was the 2020 award recipient of the Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant. Lheem was, at the time, a Social Anthropology (Global Health & Health Policy) concentrator, graduated in 2021 from Harvard College, and now works as a research assistant for Anne Becker at the Medical School. Her project was titled “My beauty is (not) my worth: exploring selfhood making through beauty & body modification practices.” As a result of the pandemic and related travel restrictions, Lheem unfortunately had to rework her project and was not able to physically travel to Korea. Nonetheless, Lheem’s recent statement about her unique experience is below, along with photo.


“I had the privilege of receiving the Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant to support my fieldwork and language training during the summer of 2020. Already passionate about my research on the history and present-day uses of cosmetic surgery practices in South Korea, being able to continue my ethnographic fieldwork through this grant—even during a time as uncertain as the first summer of the Covid-19 pandemic—further solidified my interests in pursuing graduate studies in anthropology with a focus on medical/psychiatric anthropology, Korean studies, and gender studies. Having the support to also improve my language abilities brought me closer to my interlocutors through every stage of my research, the field of Korean studies and its relevant literatures in the Korean language, and even to my own heritage as a child of South Korean immigrants.

The experiences I gained through the Joan Kleinman Grant enabled me to grow as a young researcher, scholar, ethnographer, and person, lessons from which I carried with me throughout the entire senior honors thesis writing process and beyond as I now plan for graduate studies in anthropology. The fieldwork that I conducted with the support of this grant eventually made its way into the writing of my senior honors thesis titled “Beyond Beauty: Cosmetic Surgery Practices as a Design Technology for Self-Making, Social Belonging, and Nation Building in 21st Century South Korea,” which won the Harris Prize for Best Senior Thesis in the Social Sciences (2022), the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize (2022), and the Vogt Prize for Best Senior Thesis in Social Anthropology (2022).

Lastly, it is a deep honor to have benefited from a grant dedicated to someone as touching as Joan Kleinman was – while I never had the chance to meet her myself, I could very easily tell that her soul and spirit vigorously lives on through those around me, many of whom have been my strongest supporters and mentors in both my academic and personal endeavors. To have learned, grown, and seen so much more of the world and myself through a grant in honor of her and her life’s work was an inspiration in itself, and continues to motivate me to contribute to my own fields of study through care, critical thought, immersive engagement, and an eye towards social justice.”


The Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School invites MD and MD-PhD students of Harvard Medical School and students of Harvard College to apply for this year’s Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant. The maximum award will be $7,500. Applications will be accepted until February 3, 2023. Apply via CARAT at

Search for Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant.


 IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that all support related to international travel is contingent upon Harvard University guidelines and safety protocols. Please see the following sites for the most up-to-date guidance:  Harvard Travel Guidance  and  Harvard GSS COVID-19 travel advice.


Please contact Kathryn Vandever with any questions at