Rathee, Vineet, McGill U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'Caste Panchayats of India: A Contemporary Study of Caste, Gender and the State in Rural India,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Lemons
Preliminary abstract: My project will study the role of extra-legal village caste councils (known as caste panchayats) in the formation of inter-caste and gender relations in Haryana, northern India. Typically controlled by powerful, territorially segmented, agrarian castes e.g. the Jats, Rajputs, and Ahirs, caste panchayats have recently come under intense scrutiny for orchestrating 'crimes of honor' and violence against low-caste members. Simplistically perceived as mere vestiges of 'traditional' caste sociality, caste panchayats are frequently characterized as products of hermetically closed-off, unchanging, endogenous caste forms. In contrast, I will study panchayats as modern socio-political organizations by situating them in the wider rural context of contemporary India, a context constituted by radical transformations of conditions of rural life, which have in turn profoundly reconfigured caste and gender relations. I inquire how caste panchayats have responded to such transformations of rural life and how these transformations affect their caste power and authority. In this regard, I aim to bring into sharp relief an expanding field of practices where caste panchayats' strategies of domination are being regularly challenged by low-caste groups. Further, by drawing upon the anthropological claim, which regards regulation of female sexuality and marriage as critical to reproduction of caste privilege, I will study how panchayats' violent enforcement of caste marriage norms--resulting in 'crimes of honor'--is an instance of performance of their caste authority over low-caste groups.
Gould, Sarah A., U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid 'An Ethnographic Study of Child Fosterage in Madagascar,' supervised by Dr. Michael Lambek
SARAH A. GOULD, while a student at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, received funding in May 2001 to aid an ethnographic study of child fosterage in northwestern Madagascar, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Lambek. Gould conducted her fieldwork during a period of political conflict following the presidential elections of 2001, during which two competing models of nationalism drew upon and reified the ideas of kinship, culture, ethnicity, and class underlying identity politics. Drawing on two themes-the fluidity of kinship and personhood in life and the fixity of descent among the dead in Madagascar-Gould focused on child fosterage as a means of elucidating the process of kinship and the flexibility and boundedness of identity. She investigated networks of kinship that reached from rural and urban areas in the province of Mahajanga to the capital city and overseas, focusing on children's roles within households and kinship networks and exploring how children's movements between households fit into wider patterns of exchange, reciprocity, and hierarchy. She also explored the innovative ways in which individuals enacted, negotiated, and transformed kinship ties in response to the socioeconomic demands of life in the region and considered the ways in which kinship, as moral practice, reflected and reproduced the principles of community. To answer questions of identity, she addressed patterns of child rearing, residence, and burial in relation to the meanings, uses, and practices of kinship and focused on the processes of incorporation and exclusion that created ties to kin and ancestors over a lifetime. Living with a Sakalava ruler, Gould also explored the ways in which metaphors of kinship in royal politics structured relations between subjects, rulers, and royal ancestors in a polyethnic setting.
Venkat, Bharat Jayram, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Paradoxes of Giving: The Business of Health in the Indian AIDS Crisis,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence M. Cohen
BHARAT J. VENKAT, then a graduate student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Paradoxes of Giving: The Business of Health in the Indian AIDS Crisis,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence M. Cohen. The last fifteen years have witnessed a renaissance of philanthropic giving reminiscent of the early twentieth century. In India, much of this money had gone towards the funding of HIV prevention and treatment programs. However, recent epidemiological surveys conducted by both private foundations and the Indian government revealed that HIV in India had not taken on the proportions of the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. This research examined how funding in India began to dry up, how decisions were made about where to re-investment resources, how accounting was conducted for already spent funds, and how conceptions of impact were both measured and made. In a broader sense, this work looked at how practices of business became central to practices of public health, and how these very same business principles were used to justify the ending of HIV/AIDS funding by philanthropic organizations and international health bodies. Fieldwork with philanthropic organizations in Delhi, as well as with government agencies, NGOs, and hospitals in Chennai, provided multiple entry points across various scales into the ways in which funding was being actively reorganized within the context of what appears to be an epidemiologically stabilizing and biologically mutating epidemic.
Lee, Courtney Anne, U. of Colorado, Denver, CO - To aid research on 'The Impact of Medical Tourism on Health Care in Costa Rica,' supervised by Dr. Stephen Koester
COURTNEY ANNE LEE, then a student at the University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, was awarded a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'The Impact of Medical Tourism on Health Care in Costa Rica,' supervised by Dr. Stephen Koester. Based on a year of ethnographic fieldwork, this research explores the development of Costa Rica as a medical tourist destination for Americans seeking low cost, high quality medical care. This dissertation project seeks to understand the social, political, economic, and moral implications that the growth of medical tourism -- as a manifestation of larger neoliberal changes in Latin America -- has for the existing socialized health care system in Costa Rica, and the ways in which medical tourism affects how Costa Ricans think about health care delivery and state responsibility for health care. The global medical tourism industry represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about health care provision, and yet its impacts on local health care access remain virtually unexamined. This research addresses the ideological tensions and contradictions that surround medical tourism as the lines between conceptions of health care as local and global, socialist and capitalist, public and private blur to accommodate this emerging industry. This study is one of the first to take seriously local perceptions, understandings, and engagements with medical tourism. Grounded in the experiences of Costa Rican health care providers, educators, policy makers and locals, this paper tells the story of a system in flux.
Bou Akar, Hiba, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Rebuilding the Center, Expanding the Frontier: Reconstructing Post-War(s) Beirut, Lebanon' supervised by Dr. Teresa P. Caldeira
HIBA BOU AKAR, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, received a grant in May 2009, to aid research on 'Rebuilding the Center, Expanding the Frontier: Reconstructing Post-War(s) Beirut, Lebanon,' supervised by Dr. Teresa Caldeira. The project investigates the articulation of planning practices with militarization, war, and political difference in shaping the everyday geographies of Beirut, Lebanon. The project positions religious-political actors as central to the restructuring of cities, particularly those in conflict by studying the roles such organizations have had in the production of urban space in three peripheral neighborhoods in Beirut, and the implications of such practices on the everyday spatiality of war and violence. Over a 15-month period, through observations, interviews, and archival research, the project examined the role that religious-political organizations have played in shaping urban planning and zoning schemes, building laws, housing and land markets, and the planning of infrastructure projects, as they intersect with the spatiality of the everyday 'talk of war.' Emerging from this project as well is a study of how geographies of warfare have been intertwined with the history of planning in Lebanon, along with a reflection on the methodological problematic of doing ethnographic research in volatile areas.
Pennesi, Karen E., U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Communication and Uses of Traditional and Scientific Climate Forecasts in Ceara, Brazil,' supervised by Dr. Jane H. Hill
KAREN PENNESI, then a student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, received funding in January 2005 for dissertation fieldwork on rain predictions in Ceará,Northeast Brazil, under the supervision of Jane H. Hill. The project investigated how environmental knowledge is communicated differently by traditional 'rain prophets' and meteorologists. A central question was how communication practices affect the interpretation, evaluation, and perceived relevance of climate forecasts to smallholder farmers. During 13 months of fieldwork, Pennesi observed the generation and interpretation of traditional and scientific climate forecasts. Field trips and interviews with rain prophets (who make predictions based on continual observation of the ecosystem) provided insights into traditional practices. In the scientific domain, understanding grew from weekly interactions with meteorologists and attendance at workshops, press conferences, and presentations. Information from recorded interviews, focus group discussions, media broadcasts, and public events was used to develop a 4 survey administered to 189 rural households in three regions of Ceará state: Quixadá, Tauá, and Cariri. The survey explored knowledge of both traditional and meteorological rain indicators as well as opinions related to climate forecasting. Pennesi has now cataloged over 900 traditional rain indicators. Further questions about agricultural practices, religion, government, and science provided data used to elucidate cultural models affecting how climate forecasts are interpreted and judged. Feedback on preliminary conclusions was obtained from rain prophets, meteorologists, and farmers. In the final months, Pennesi's research was used as part of a communication plan in development at the Ceará Foundation for Meteorology and Hydrological Resources.
Fried, Ruby L., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Intergenerational Impacts of Culture Change: Traditional Food and the Metabolic Functioning of Alaska Native Peoples,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kawaza
Preliminary abstract: Anthropological studies conducted from Samoa to Siberia have demonstrated consequences of cultural change on human biological variation. Findings point to market integration, 'Westernization,' 'acculturation,' and other social transitions as determinants of changes in diet and lifestyle that lead to increased obesity and metabolic dysregulation in affected populations. While the majority of this research has focused on the direct impacts of such shifts on adult biology, recent work is focusing attention on early life critical periods when experiences can lead to durable biological changes that alter developmental biology and long-term health. As a recent manifestation of this idea, rising rates of maternal obesity, gestational weight gain (GWG), and high blood glucose and triglycerides may be creating an evolutionarily novel, gestational milieu that promotes faster fetal growth, higher birth weights, adiposity, and metabolic dysregulation in offspring. This emerging evidence supports a new hypothesis: the impacts of culture change on human biology do not end with the individual who directly experiences it, but may also be transmitted, via an altered in utero environment, to the next generation. The proposed study aims to test this model of an intergenerational impact of culture change among Alaska Native mother-infant dyads by comparing dietary intake (traditional vs. Western foods) with maternal obesity, GWG, pregnancy metabolism and fetal/infancy growth and adiposity in offspring. Recent and still ongoing cultural and dietary transitions among Alaska Native groups provide a valuable opportunity to evaluate maternal metabolism as a pathway linking rapid culture change with altered growth, body composition and health outcomes in offspring.
Sykes, Jim, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'A 'Space' for Sound: Sacred Music, Sentiment, and the Politics of Place in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Philip V. Bohlman
JIM SYKES, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'A 'Space' for Sound: Sacred Music, Sentiment, and the Politics of Place in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Philip V. Bohlman. Sri Lanka has become infamous around the world as a site of 'ethnic conflict,' on account of the island's 25-year civil war between the Sinhala-led government and the Tamil-led Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L TIE). One outcome of the conflict is the mainstreaming of ethnonationalist ideologies of cultural separation, which view the island's Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, and other populations as having thoroughly distinct cultural histories. This dissertation contests such an overly ethnicized reading of Sri Lankan cultural history, through the lens of musical practices. Rather than focus on one ethnic group and 'its' music, the project locates music as a site of contestation between two radically alternate narratives of Sri Lankan social relations: on the one hand, a history of ethnic division, chauvinism, and violence; on the other, an underrepresented history of tolerance, borrowing, and mixing. Drawing on fieldwork with musicians in two locations (one majority Sinhala, the other majority Tamil) and focusing on traditional drumming (yak hera, maththalam), the project explores music's entanglements with personhood, modernity, trauma, and historical narrative from a comparative perspective, in order to articulate a discourse on Sri Lankan communities that is regional, rather than ethnic or linguistic, in scope.
Sykes, Jim. 2013. Culture as Freedom: Musical 'Liberation' in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Ethnomusicology 57(3):485-517.
Kett, Robert John, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Subterranean Science: Oil, Archaeology and the Making of Southern Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Mei Zhan
ROBERT J. KETT, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, was awarded a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Subterranean Science: Oil, Archaeology and the Making of Southern Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Mei Zhan. From atop Complex C, an overgrown pyramid at the center of the Olmec archaeological site of La Venta, the visitor can see the pipes and towers of the Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) processing plant that sits next to the archaeological zone. Such natural and cultural resource projects have dramatically transfigured the town of Villa la Venta and the Mexican state of Tabasco. This research examines how intellectual inquiry on the Mexican Gulf Coast has contributed to the region's dramatic transformation through projects of natural and cultural resource development in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It demonstrates how various knowledge-making projects-which identified natural and cultural resources including Olmec archaeological centers and petroleum reserves-were necessary precursors to the subsequent transformation of the region from an infamous 'backwater' into a center of heritage tourism and oil extraction. The research then offers an intellectual history that points to the active role of such projects in processes of region- and resource-making, arguing for an increased attention to the ways in which intellectual projects interact in the context of field research and to the connections between such interdisciplinary inquiry and broader regional development.
Barnes, Jessica Emily, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Farming Fayoum: The Flows and Frictions of Irrigation in Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Paige West
JESSICA BARNES, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Farming Fayoum: The Flows and Frictions of Irrigation in Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Paige West. This research asks how farmers' everyday practices of water use in the Fayoum, Egypt, are affected by changes in the national and international context in which they make their decisions, and how farmers' decisions, in turn, shape this context. The research explores the relationship between government policy shifts, international donors' agendas, and farmers' decision-making on water management through analysis of four central themes: 1) water scarcity; 2) management of excess water through drainage; 3) participatory water management; and 4) the diversion of water to irrigate newly reclaimed desert lands. Through participant observation, interviews, and documentary analysis, this research follows the flows of water across time and space, highlighting the points of friction where the water does not flow. The research builds on the anthropological literature on irrigation, extending it in new ways through bringing in insights from science and technology studies and embedding the study of local irrigation practices within the broader context of national and international, political and economic transitions.