Umang Kamra ’22 Receives Baumann Essay Prize

August 02, 2022

Umang Kamra has received the Frederick Baumann Essay Prize Award, which recognizes excellence in education by encouraging Grinnell College students to explore ideas and society in an interdisciplinary and historical context. 

Kamra, a class of 2022 graduate from New Delhi, Delhi, India, is a history major with a policy studies concentration. His essay, titled “Adivasis and the Two Faces of Violence: Emergence of the Postcolonial India State,” investigates the epistemic and physical harms committed against the Adivasis (tribes) of Chhotanagpur by the early postcolonial state. 

His writing was informed by his independent study and Mentored Advanced Project (MAP), which he conducted with Professor Elizabeth Prevost throughout the spring, summer, and fall of 2021. This was preceded by an internship that he undertook in summer 2020 with the Policy & Development Advisory Group (PDAG), a firm that works with the Jharkhand State Government in India. In this internship, he evaluated, through primary and secondary research, the potential of using sports as a tool of empowerment for Adivasi (tribal) women of Jharkhand. Evaluating the social position of Adivasi women through an intersectional lens motivated him to pursue independent study on Adivasi history, which in turn led to his original essay, submitted for the Baumann Essay Prize. 

“Aiming to build a career in social research and social impact, this research project enabled me to understand why certain histories persist throughout society, and why histories and memories of disadvantaged groups remain relegated,” said Kamra. “This understanding and experience was crucial for me in figuring out my positionality, especially since I seek to work towards enacting social change, which is positive, equitable, and culturally sensitive.” 

As a Grinnell student, Kamra was a service and social innovation intern in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service and a committee member for the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights. 

Kamra is beginning his career in the fields of social research and public policy implementation in India. After gaining one or two years of work experience, he plans to use the prize funds to help support his graduate studies in public policy, development studies, or sociology. 

“Adivasis and the Two Faces of Violence: Emergence of the Postcolonial India State” and other Baumann Essay Prize writing can be found on Digital Grinnell — see Adivasis and the Two Faces of Violence | Digital Grinnell

The Baumann Essay Prize, established in 1993 and funded by David ’51 and Audrey Lowe ’52 Hammer, distinguishes the dynamic classroom contributions of Frederick Baumann, professor of history at Grinnell from 1927 to 1954. The prize is awarded each spring to the student, from any discipline and any class year, who writes the best original essay — taking an interdisciplinary and historical approach — on the general topic of “Ideas and Society.” For additional information about the award, please contact Ann Landstrom, fellowship adviser, at

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