Reese, Jill Marie, U. College London, London, UK - To aid research on 'Spectacular Politics & the Image: Narrative, Morality and Power in the Tamil Public Sphere,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Pinney
JILL REESE, then a student at University College London, London, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'Spectacular Politics and the Image: Narrative, Morality and Power in the Tamil Public Sphere,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Pinney. Situated in Madurai, Tamilnadu, India, this project sought to examine the relationship of spectacularity to political efficacy, the nature and circulation of narrative tropes of morality employed by image regimes, and the utility of a 'streetscape' as ethnographic location to illuminate the spatio-temporal dimensions of a politico-media assemblage. Data gleaned during fieldwork reveals the centrality of patronage and hierarchies of power as demonstrated through spectacle (images as well as affective displays of public devotion) and mobilized through materials (goods promised in campaigns, illicit payments for votes, materials presented at ceremonies, and the opulence of religious, civic, and political functions). Eighteen months of fieldwork affirmed the preeminence of imagery to political parties and their successes despite continuous tensions between ambivalence and anxiety about images, but also revealed the importance of the materiality of politics to electoral success. It is essential for parties to create a coherent narrative through the image regime, but that need not necessarily be moralistic. Additionally, the utilization of multiple 'streetscapes' within Madurai as ethnographic locations is imperative because public spaces-especially those around significant statues of past leaders-situate popular discourses as they are revealed and contested through imagery and events such as religious festivals, political demonstrations, and caste and civic celebrations, and it is for this reason that political parties employ these spaces.
Green, Elizabeth Mara, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Everyday Signs: Deaf Sociality and Communicative Practices in Rural Nepal,' supervised by Dr. William F. Hanks
ELIZABETH MARA GREEN, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, was awarded funding in May 2009, to aid research on 'Everyday Signs: Deaf Sociality and Communicative Practices in Rural Nepal,' supervised by Dr. William F. Hanks. An estimated 5,000-15,000 deaf people in Nepal are Nepali Sign Language (NSL) users and participants in an urban-centered, national deaf community. In contrast, the majority of deaf Nepalis -- some 190,000 according to one frequently quoted figure -- never learn, or even encounter, NSL. Without access to a shared language, these deaf people, along with their hearing interlocutors, develop localized gestural systems to communicate. The researcher conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Kathmandu, the capital, and Maunabudhuk, a village in the east, with local signers. The findings suggest that local sign is both like and unlike communication that occurs when using a standard language; while both rely on conventions, the former has a much smaller and less stable repertoire, such that it is characterized not only by successes but also by frequent misunderstandings and a very tightly-bound relationship to social and interactional context. The dissertation will explore more fully how deaf local signers and their hearing family members, neighbors, and friends draw on shared personal experiences, tacit social knowledge, and the material landscape to produce meaningful signs and meaningful lives.
von Schnitzler, Anna C., Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid 'Liberation in Times of Neoliberalism: An Ethnography of Policy and Privatization in Post-Apartheid South Africa,' supervised by Dr. David Scott
ANNA C. VON SCHNITZLER, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in February 2004 to aid 'Liberation in Times of Neoliberalism: An Ethnography of Policy and Privatization in Post-Apartheid South Africa,' supervised by Dr. David Scott. This grant funded research on how neoliberal policy is made, rationalized, and implemented in post-apartheid South Africa at the paradoxical juncture of liberation and liberalization. The research focused on the implementation of prepaid water meters in Soweto by the corporatized utility Johannesburg Water, but also included a historical focus on the 'reforms' initiated by the apartheid state in the late 1970s and early 1980s and on the rent boycotts in Soweto during the mid-1980s. Through interviews with policy-makers, consultants, community facilitators, anti-privatization activists and residents and by participating in government consultation meetings, activist meetings and protests, this project sought to understand how discourses and practices of citizenship and the state have been transformed in the context of neoliberal reform. Archival research and interviews with former apartheid government officials and former anti-apartheid activists enabled the tracking of how the apartheid government reacted to the emergent global neoliberal hegemony during the 1980s. The dissertation produced from this research seeks to combine a genealogy of neoliberal thought in South Africa and elsewhere with a look at the practices and technologies of neoliberal government in South Africa today. It seeks to explore how processes of neoliberalization are at once related to locally specific problems encountered by government (such as 'non-payment') to which specific solutions have to be found, and simultaneously guided by and under pressure from a globally hegemonic paradigm of neoliberal reform.
Leon, Andres, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Agrarian Conflict and the 2009 Honduras Coup d'état: Global Land Grabbing, Dispossession and Peasant Resistance in the Bajo Aguán,' supervised by Dr. Marc Edelman
ANDRES LEON, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'Agrarian Conflict and the 2009 Honduras Coup d'état: Global Land Grabbing, Dispossession and Peasant Resistance in the Bajo Aguán,' supervised by Dr. Marc Edelman. The grantee investigated the relation between the current agrarian conflicts in the Aguan Valley in northern Honduras, and the 2009 coup d'etat that ousted democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya. Research included extensive fieldwork in various peasant communities located in the valley and employing extended participant observation and oral history recuperation to document and reconstruct the history of the valley and the set of peasant cooperatives that were created during the 1970s. Based on fieldwork, interviews, archival and other documentary data, research investigated the process by which organized groups of peasants were brought to the deemed 'empty' Aguan Valley during the 1970s to form a set of cooperatives dedicated mainly to the production of African Palm. Based on this combination of ethnographic and historical research, the study argues that this case complicates the argument presented by most of the current literature on the global land grab that presents the African Palm boom as something relatively new, and as creating a conflict between palm-producing large landowners and subsistence-oriented poor peasants. In the Aguan Valley, the expansion of African Palm began in the 1970s and this expansion has been as much the result of increasing transnational investment through large landowners, as that of peasant cooperatives investing their meager resources into the production of the crop.
Brandisauskas, Donatas, Aberdeen U., Aberdeen, UK - To aid research on 'Beliefs and Practices among Hunters and Gatherers in the Zabaikalja Region, Russia,' supervised by Dr. David G. Anderson
DONATAS BRANDISAUSKAS, then a student at Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, Scotland, received funding in January 2005 to aid research on 'Beliefs and Practices among Hunters and Gatherers in the Zabaikalja Region, Russia,' supervised by Dr. David G. Anderson. Ethnographic research was conducted among Orochen-Evenki hunters' and reindeer herders' communities from January to December 2005 in the northern part of Chita district and Buriatiia Republic in Eastern Siberia (Russia). The research explored how Orochen relationship between cosmology and environment has changed because of external stresses such as the establishment of the Soviet! Post-Soviet policies. It focused on the everyday activities and discourses of indigenous Siberians as they hunt, herd reindeer, and fish to explore the concept of 'odiun.' (master, ruler) which is crucial to understanding the way in which the indigenous relate to places. 'Odiun' is a 'root metaphor' for the social power configuration of the world in Orochen realities that is also found widely throughout Siberian natives. 'Odiun' can designate spiritual entities like the masters of mountains, lakes, or rivers and it can be explained as a 'ruler' or a 'host' of a particular place, referring to any sentient being. Research discovered that 'masterhood' can be used as analytical concept to tie together many disparate concepts such as cosmological knowledge, power, perception of landscape and animals, and recent political discourses. It can serve as excellent explanatory concept crucial to many Asian societies.
Peterson, David L., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid the 'Samara Bronze Age Metals Project: Changing Technologies and Transformation of Value in the Eurasian Steppes,' supervised by Dr. Michael Dietler
DAVID L. PETERSON, while a student at University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, received a grant in June 2001 to aid research on changing technologies of metalworking in the Eurasian steppes during the Bronze Age, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Dietler. The project was designed to investigate the links between the production and uses of metal and developments in the technology and value of metalwork over the course of the Bronze Age (ca. 3500-1000 B.C.E.). Through an archaeological field survey, Peterson investigated the contribution of local copper production to the consumption of metal in the forest-steppes of northeastern Samara, Russia. He identified six habitation sites and three mine works and recorded evidence for the economy, structure, and environment of human occupation in the middle to late Bronze Age (ca. 2000-1500 B.C.E.). In addition, he removed samples from 106 metal artifacts collected during previous investigations in Samara for subsequent analysis of metalworking materials and techniques. The results of the research and subsequent analysis promised to yield insights into the role of metalwork in burial rites and other realms of social practice and into the broader relationship between metal production and mobile pastoralism.
Furman, Carrie A., U. of California, Riverside, CA - To aid research on 'Re-Channeling Power: Water Resource Management in Rural Bolivia After Decentralization,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Patterson
CARRIE A. FURMAN, then a student at University of California, Riverside, California, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Re-Channeling Power: Water Resource Management in Rural bolivia after Decentralization,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Patterson. Recent access to irrigation in the arid valleys of Bolivia is providing rural families with increased agricultural productivity, manifesting in greater food security and income from agricultural markets. In addition, the management of this valuable resource has altered the political systems and social dynamics of this region. This research studies the Lahuachama irrigation system and the way it is altering water management practices, community organization, participation in markets, and local politics. More specifically, the themes explored during field research consisted of investigating the economic and agricultural marketing activities of the irrigation associates, the role of NGO's in capacity building, and the participation of women. Data was collected through the combined use of formal and informal interviews, participant observation, archival research, and the creation of a GIS georeferenced map of the irrigation system. The data collected significantly shaped the direction and scope of the grantee's dissertation research. Foundation support enabled the researcher to reach remote regions in the study area, use more complex technologies, and hire consultants, and the research findings are beginning to illuminate many of the profound changes in regional social organization as well as alterations in community and household agricultural practices.
Takabvirwa, Kathryn Farisai, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Rite of Passage: Roadblocks and Encounters with State Officials in Zimbabwe,' supervised Dr. James Ferguson
Preliminary abstract: Zimbabwe is emerging from a period of intense economic crisis, which saw a staggering proportion of the population exit the country. In the wake of these exceptional conditions, there has been an explosion of official police roadblocks throughout the country. This project examines the governance of movement in Zimbabwe. Taking roadblocks as a key site at which Zimbabweans encounter the state, it examines the encounters at roadblocks, asking how both the project of policing and the strategies used to get through or get around roadblocks are made sense of by both drivers and police officers. The study asks how the exchanges that occur at sites where state officials and citizens meet allow for the working out of new forms of sociality, of citizenship and of citizen-state relations in Zimbabwe. It does this by undertaking an ethnographic study of one stretch of road and one of the towns from or through which it runs. The study explores the ways Zimbabweans negotiate roadblocks, and how the encounters, experiences and the project of policing are made sense of by both travelers and officials.
Kim, Dohye, U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on ''I am a Half Retiree, but Soon to be Pure': South Korean Retiree Migration to the Philippines,' supervised by Dr. Nancy Abelmann
Preliminary abstract: I propose to conduct an ethnography of early retirement. My study focuses on the journeys of South Korean retirees to the Philippines necessitated by South Korea's lack of national and corporate welfare and opened by the Filipino authorities' promotion of retiree migration. Most South Korean retirees in the Philippines, now largely in their 50s and early 60s, forcibly left their jobs in the post-Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s and are too young and financially insecure to become, what they call 'pure retirees,' those who can stop working entirely. Thus, they have started small businesses in the Philippines, hoping that they will bring them sudden wealth, as was the case with so many in South Korea in the 1970s, thanks to loose regulation and widespread corruption. Rather than assuming retirement as a one-time life event, only applicable to those who have sufficient financial capacity (i.e., middle classes in advanced economies), my research questions how people with lack of national and corporate welfare in late-industrialized countries, such as South Korea struggle to achieve the goal of becoming retirees through new ideas of retirement in another country. In addition, I pay attention to South Korean retirees' nostalgic longing as a potential catalyst to cross the border, and the ways in which the Philippines is constructed as a hopeful site. Through the lens of 'retirement,' my research seeks to explore paradoxes integral to the process of flexible labor -- two seemingly different tendencies: promoting retiree migration while also making retirement a difficult, almost unattainable goal for people to achieve.
Bates, Lynsey Ann, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Spatial Appropriation and Market Participation by Enslaved Laborers on Colonial Jamaican Plantations,' supervised by Dr. Robert L. Schuyler
LYNSEY ANN BATES, then a student at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Spatial Appropriation and Market Participation by Enslaved Laborers on Colonial Jamaican Plantations,' supervised by Dr. Robert L. Schuyler. This research project explores the dynamic interplay between space, agency. and power in plantation contexts by focusing on the way enslaved people utilized space and material culture on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Jamaican plantations. The provision ground system, which required enslaved laborers to cultivate their own foodstuffs, was an integral part of labor management, profit maximization, and market formation in the British colonial Caribbean. Within this system, enslaved people's independent cultivation, transport, and sale of surplus production facilitated their participation in local markets. Regional variability and diachronic change in these interrelated activities are examined through the identification of the environmental, spatial, and social control conditions that shaped patterns in the market goods acquired by enslaved people. Quantitative analysis of historic cartographic data using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques suggests the factors that limited independent food cultivation on large-scale, profit-driven sugar plantations. Archaeological evidence from slave villages within those estates indicates the frequency and types of goods produced and purchased by enslaved laborers. Preliminary findings suggest that differences in the conditions related to internal organization and topography of individual estates influenced enslaved people's consumption of imported and locally made goods. This comparative approach integrates information from planter-imposed spatial order and slave-related artifact discard to understand the role of provisioning in plantation slavery.