Robbins, Jessica Choate, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Making and Unnmaking Polish Persons: Aging and Memory in Postsocialist Poland,' supervised by Dr. Gillian Feeley-Harnik
JESSICA C. ROBBINS, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Making and Unnmaking Polish Persons: Aging and Memory in Postsocialist Poland,' supervised by Dr. Gillian Feeley-Harnik. This research investigated how experiences and ideals of aging relate to changing formations of nation and state through the study of contemporary practices of memory in Wroc?aw and Pozna?, Poland. This research sought to understand how older persons become transformed through practices of memory in personal, familial, and national contexts (e.g., telling life histories, creating photo albums and other material evidence, or following public debates on pension reform). To understand how current interpretations and ramifications of the last century's large-scale changes matter in the lives of aging Poles, and how the oldest generations matter to the Polish nation and state, this research consisted of an ethnographic study of aging Poles' gendered practices of reminiscence in a variety of social, political, religious, and economic contexts (e.g.,a church-run rehabilitation hospital, a state-run home for the chronically ill, a day care center for people with Alzheimer's disease, and Universities of the Third Age). This research demonstrated that experiences and ideals of aging are deeply gendered, and that older people's practices of memory are intimately bound up with transformations of persons, collective memory, and nationalisms, and tied to national practices of remembering Poland's past and creating the proper future path of state and nation.
Bonilla, Yarimar, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Labor Struggles and the Search for a Local Politics on the Island of Guadeloupe,' supervised by Dr. Jean Comaroff
YARIMAR BONILLA, while a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in July 2003 to aid research on the role of labor struggles in the political landscape of Guadeloupe, under the supervision of Jean Comaroff. The research explored labor movements as sites of social struggle wherein the form, content, and meaning of Guadeloupe's postcolonial relationship to France become negotiated and redefined. It sought to look at how French traditions of syndicalism are transformed in the postcolonial space of the outre-mer and how labor movements are emerging as the inheritors of failed anti-colonial and nationalist struggles. Using participant observation, targeted interviews and archival research, Bonilla conducted research among labor activists, local bosses, government officials, and members of the local media in order to interrogate the privileged role of labor unions in the Guadeloupean public sphere. The research focused on how the regulation of labor, and the struggle for the application of French labor laws, becomes an important site where the contradictions and tensions of the French postcolonial project become materially evident. Bonilla investigated the ritualistic and performative aspects of labor strikes and negotiations, as well as the tactical strategies that inform these practices, such as the manipulation of fear, violence, myth, rumor, and memory. The project also explored how the violence of the past informs present-day contestations of the symbols of social order and legal authority, in order to understand how and why in Guadeloupe a labor demonstration can become a civil riot.
Wells, Eric C., Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Communal Feasting and the Social Order at El Coyote, Northwestern Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Ben A. Nelson
ERIC C. WELLS, while a student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, received funding in July 2001 to aid research on 'Communal Feasting and the Social Order at El Coyote, Northwestern Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Ben A. Nelson. The 2001-2002 Wenner-Gren Individual Research Grant in Archaeology, 'Communal Feasting and the Social Order at EI Coyote, Northwestern Honduras,' contributed financial support to a doctoral research project aimed at exploring the foundations of social power, expressed in the development of hierarchical social and material relations, in prehispanic Honduran chiefdoms. The study focused on the case of EI Coyote, the Classic period (ca. AD 300-1000) capital settlement of the lower Cacaulapa River Valley in northwestern Honduras. With funds from Wenner-Gren, archaeological data were collected from excavations in and around EI Coyote's main civic-ceremonial plaza to provide information on the range and organization of activities carried out in this space. The underlying assumption is that the practices that occurred in this space are directly related to the ways in which local rulers marshaled political and economic forces within their society and forged alliances with peers in neighboring realms. The nature and distribution of material remains in the plaza and in adjacent spaces, combined with chemical data produced from a multi-element analysis of the plaza's component sediments, indicate that craft manufacture, feasting, and ritual activities were carried out in the environs of the main plaza during the seventh through eleventh centuries. These data suggest that EI Coyote's rulers fashioned social hierarchy by centralizing and appropriating surplus labor during community-wide plaza activities in which feasts and other ritual practices served as inducements for individuals to participate in activities calculated to enhance chiefly productivity and to reinforce chiefly legitimacy.
De Cesari, Chiara, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Cultural Heritage Beyond the 'State'/Palestinian Heritage between Nationalism and Transnationalism,' supervised by Dr. Ian R. Hodder
CHIARA DE CESARI, while a student at Stanford University, California, received funding in January 2006 to aid research on 'Cultural Heritage Beyond the 'State'/Palestinian Heritage Between Nationalism and Transnationalism,' supervised by Dr. Ian Hodder. This research focuses on the relationship between patrimonialization processes and the new forms of governmentality that have emerged during the past decade in the West Bank and Gaza Strip - a political (dis)order characterized by the coexistence of novel forms of Israeli colonial rule, a quasi-state, the Palestinian Authority, as well as the significant presence of international and donor agencies. Taking as starting point the activism of Palestinian civil society organizations, and the relevance of material remains of the past as sites of high discursive density, the research explored heritage discourses and practices, the conditions of their emergence, and the effects of heritage projects on affected local communities. During tenure of the Wenner-Gren grant, the researcher carried out ethnographic fieldwork chiefly within UNESCO and the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, a Palestinian semi-governmental organization responsible for a major urban rehabilitation project in the old city of Hebron, as well as in the old city itself. Fieldwork indicates the proliferation of different cultures of memory/heritage in the lacerated space of Palestine, rooted in a desire for continuity and roots against dispossession and displacement. While global languages of heritage are appropriated by local actors in the making of a relived Palestinian past, the politics of donors' aid tend to direct flows of monies to restricted, accessible areas, thus reinforcing the current process of bantustanization of the Occupied Territories.
De Cesari, Chiara. 2010. Creative Heritage: Palestinian Heritage NGOs and Defiant Arts of Government. American Anthropologist 112(4):625-637
Piliavsky, Anastasia, U. of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Crooked Circles: 'Criminal Castes,' Vernacular Governance and the State in Rural North India,' supervised by Dr. David Nicholas Gellner
ANASTASIA PILIAVSKY, then a student at the University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, received funding in May 2008 to aid research on 'Crooked Circles: 'Criminal Castes,' Vernacular Governance and the State in Rural North India,' supervised by Dr. David N. Gellner. This ethnographic and historical research focused on a community of professional thieves, known as Kanjars, in western India, who have been historically instrumental to local governance as agents of resource extraction, intelligence gathering, and protection. Today, many of them continue to be employed both in the 'shadow economy' and the formal governmental sphere. This work shows that relationships between Kanjars and their employers, be they local farmers, police officers or politicians, draw on a basic formula of relatedness, status and rank in local society, which may be heuristically termed the 'patron-client' bond. The ethnography details the moral economy of such relationships -- the attendant rules of comportment, forms of economic exchange and mutual expectations -- in Kanjar life, showing that relations with hereditary patrons and state employees follow a shared set of rules, with policemen, civil servants, and politicians acting much like the erstwhile princely chiefs. The opposition between the logic of patronage and the global philosophy of impersonal statehood has provoked much concern with the 'criminalization' of the Indian state. Because Indian patrons must give, feasts, and gifts are as central to modern political campaigns as they were to the courtly rites of pre-British kingdoms. Resource extraction by means of theft, decried as 'criminal' or 'corrupt' in the press, is crucial to such donorship, making thieving as central to petty countryside politicking as to the success of elections, political parties and Indian rural electoral democracy at large.
Piliavsky, Anastasia. 2013. The Moghia Menace, or the Watch Over Watchmen In British India. Modern Asian Studies, 47, pp 751-779 (doi:10.1017/S0026749X11000643)
Piliavsky, Anastasia. 2011. A Secret in the Oxford Sense: Thieves and the Rhetoric of Mystification in Western India. Comparative Studies in Society and History 53(2):290-313.
Kumar, Richa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on ''Neo-Liberalizing Development'? Village Internet Kiosks and Agribusiness in India,' supervised by Dr. Christine J. Walley
RICHA KUMAR, then a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Neo-Liberalizing Development? Village Internet Kiosks and Agribusiness in India,' supervised by Dr. Christine J. Walley. Prior to the liberalization of agricultural markets in India in the 1990s the state had played a major role in the research, subsidization, and marketing of agricultural produce. Since then, the entry of several multinational agribusinesses using new technologies has been viewed as a challenge to the state, especially by intermediaries who compare such neoliberal forces to colonial domination by the British East India Company. This research focuses on the social relationships between farmers, intermediaries, state, and market actors in the agricultural supply chain and how they are being reworked or reproduced over time. Rather than receding as neoliberal forces become more prominent, the state has, instead, helped make the rural legible to them through supportive legal-economic frameworks, and legitimized the creation of 'free markets' that are, in fact, amenable to powerful manipulation. Both state and market actors have been deeply imbricated in transforming agriculture and both invoke the economic language of growth to justify their actions as embodying what is best for the 'development' of farmers. Through a multi-sited ethnography, this research explores multiple understandings of development by studying the transformations in the interaction between farmers, intermediaries, and state and market actors over time.
Timura, Christopher T., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Negotiating Expertise: The Globalizing Cultures of British and American Peace Negotiators,' supervised by Dr. Conrad P. Kottak
CHRISTOPHER T. TIMURA, while a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding to aid research on the globalizing cultures of British and American peace negotiators, under the supervision of Dr. Conrad P. Kottak. Timura conducted eleven months of fieldwork with a representative sample of university and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the globalizing field of conflict resolution. He obtained more than 140 interviews with students, trainers, and practitioners, collected oral histories from key informants, and acted as a participant observer in seminars and training workshops. In addition, he used information about practitioners' professional networks and their referrals to arrange interviews with key individuals involved in the conflict management activities of the U.S. and British governments. The data showed that conflict management theories could be traced back to a small but diverse group of North American and European founding figures who used their institutional affiliations to promulgate their understanding of how violent conflict could be prevented, managed, and resolved. Despite considerable demographic diversity in the field today, a common set of concepts and value orientations enabled this transnational group to coalesce around a conflict resolution epistemology and practice. Conflict resolution specialists have used their roles in government, NGOs, and academe to advocate for changes in the ways governments manage and resolve violent conflict, while arguing for the existence of their own specific form of expertise. 'Local' cultural, socioeconomic, religious, and political factors have played varying roles in the globalization of this expertise beyond North America and Europe, offering opportunities for considering how anthropology might constructively analyze and otherwise engage with this and similar phenomena having significant effects on international governance.
Baca Marroquin, Ancira Emily, U. of Illinois, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Provincial Economy in Chinchaysuyo: Imperial and Local Ceramic Distribution and Consumption, Asia Valley, Central-Coast, Peru,' supervised by Dr. Partick Williams
Preliminary abstract: My project investigates the multidirectional core-periphery interplay with focus on theories of expanding empires and provincial economy. More specifically, I will examine the differing economic participation that intermediate elites and commoners of a non-state coastal society engaged with The Inca empire (A.D. 1400-1532), the largest ancient economic system ever recorded in the Americas. To examine economic participation, I focus on imperial and local ceramic distribution and consumption patterns of intermediate elites and commoners at the site of Quellca, Asia Valley, Peru. The questions that guide my research can be summarized as follows: To what extend intermediate elites and commoners in the Asia Valley consume imported imperial, provincial, and regional ceramics, or did they exclusively consume local wares? Are there qualitative/quantitative differences in the ceramic distribution and consumption patterns between these social groups? To what extent and in what ways did intermediate elites and commoners participate to imperial economic policies? Working under the assumption that provincial economies reflect arrangements between empires and provincial societies, my investigation into the differing distribution and consumption patterns of imperial goods between intermediate elites and commoners offers opportunities to expand developing theories of imperial expansion and provincial economy in modern and ancient settings.
Chatterjee, Moyukh, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Legacies of Collective Violence: Survivors, NGOs, and the State in Gujarat, India,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Knauft
MOYUKH CHATTERJEE, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Legacies of Collective Violence: Survivors, NGOs, and the State in Gujarat, India,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Knauft. This project examines how mass violence unfolds across legal institutions of state redress and its implications for survivors and human-rights NGOs struggling for justice in India. Despite numerous official commissions of inquiry, human-rights activism, and civil society efforts, mass violence against minorities -- supported by state officials and militant rightwing organizations -- goes largely unpunished in India. By examining the production, circulation, and interpretation of police and legal documents within different state institutions, and victim and NGO efforts to challenge state impunity, this project examines state writing practices and its effects on legal accountability. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in lower courts, legal-aid NGOs, and survivors/complainants of the anti-Muslim violence in 2002, this project outlines how law courts obfuscate individual culpability, invalidate victims' testimony, and render sexual and gendered violence against minorities invisible. The study examines the role of legal and police documents in enabling the state apparatus to regulate what can be officially seen and said about public acts of mass violence involving ruling politicians and state officials, and its implications for survivors, human-rights activists, and NGOs fighting for legal justice.
Obadia, Julienne Jeanne, New School for Social Research, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Shared Intimacy: Opening the Door of the American Bedroom,' supervised by Dr. Miriam Ticktin
JULIENNE J. OBADIA, then a student at New School for Social Research, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Shared Intimacy: Opening the Door of the American Bedroom,' supervised by Dr. Miriam Ticktin. This research explores how American notions of self, relationship, and family relate to the contemporary conceptualization and practice of polyamory, or honest non-monogamy. Findings point to three significant themes. First, frustrated by the monogamous mandate to have all needs and desires met by one person, polyamorous people find that intimacy with multiple people can satisfy a much wider range of needs and desires. Commonly, this entails an emphasis on self-analysis, self-knowledge, and self-compartmentalization based on the principle that relationships work best and are most satisfying when each partner knows him/herself and what he/she wants from each relationship. Second, to organize poly life and minimize surprises, contracts and agreements often designate in advance what kinds of relationships and intimacies are acceptable. Understood as a tool for both self-knowledge and relationship transparency, contracts are always transforming, encouraging while regulating modes of self-elaboration. Last, current polyamorous practice utilizes a concept of 'sexual orientation' associated primarily with homosexuality: a set of desires that one is born with and is unaffected by upbringing, choice, or culture. Consonant with a theory of personhood based on discovering and elaborating a core self, this orientation is described as having always existed as an essential part of oneself.