Otu, Edwin Kwame, Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid research on 'Reluctantly Queer: Sassoi, and the Shifting Paradigms of Masculinity and Sexual Citizenship in Postcolonial Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Susan Snow Wadley
Preliminary abstract: My dissertation research will explore the ongoing transformations in understandings about masculinity and sexual citizenship in postcolonial Ghana. In the early decades of the 21st century, Ghana has witnessed several shifts in understandings about gender and sexuality, such as the reduction of effeminacy to homosexuality. These transformations, wrought by the increasing visibility of same-sex politics in postcolonial Africa and the increasing pseudo-homophobia of the nation-state, inform the background of the lives of self-identified effeminate men, known in local parlance as sassoi. Not a unified whole, sassoi experiences and sensibilities are shaped by their multiple orientations. Sassoi heterogeneity is therefore contingent on their ethnicity, class, educational level, and the degree to which they embrace particular heteronormative ideas and practices, such as marriage, fatherhood, and socially acceptable markers of being. Central to this thesis is the idea of, and perhaps the practice of reluctance. How might sassoi be reluctantly queer subjects, and what aspects of their lives might shape their refusal of the reducibility of effeminacy to homosexuality? Combining life narratives, observant participation, discourse analysis, and archival research, I will explore how sassoi remake their identities as effeminate subjects in this era of global LGBTQ politics and growing political homophobia in Ghana.
Drah, Bright Bensah, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Crisis Fostering in an Age of HIV/AIDS: Experiences of Queen Mothers of Manya Krobo, Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Daniel W. Sellen
BRIGHT BENSAH DRAH, then a student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, received a grant in November 2008 to aid research on 'Crisis Fostering in an Age of HIV/AIDS: Experiences of Queen Mothers of Manya Krobo, Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Daniel W. Sellen. About 170,000 Ghanaian children are orphaned due to AIDS, 80 percent of whom are fostered by women. Existing research about orphan care has focused on the woman-child dyad, thereby obscuring other forms of care. Moreover, the conventional measures of orphan care are based on frameworks that ignore orphans' perspectives and the social context in which caregiving is negotiated. In the Lower and Upper Manya Krobo districts in Ghana's Eastern Region, queen mothers (traditional female leaders) are responsible for orphans. The aims of the current study are to examine: 1) the socio-cultural context of orphan care in Manya Krobo; 2) caregiving strategies used by the queen mothers; and 3) the outcomes for orphans. Between September 2008 and December 2009, data were collected from queen mothers, children 6-11 years old, chiefs, HIV-infected/uninfected adults, welfare officers and NGOs using qualitative and quantitative methods, including focus groups, semi-structured interviews, structured interviews, and participant observation in households. Data collected included participants' understandings and expressions of care, child/orphan and caregiving practices. Analysis and manuscript preparation are expected to be complete by June 2010. Findings will address existing gaps in anthropological theory of community based child caregiving and contribute to improving orphan care in Ghana and internationally.
Su, Anne, Stony Brook U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Functional Morphology of Subchondral and Trabecular Bone in the Hominid Hindfoot,' supervised by Dr. Brigitte Demes
ANNE SU, then a student at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, received a grant in October 2008, to aid research on 'The Functional Morphology of Subchondral and Trabecular Bone in the Hominid Hindfoot,' Supervised by Dr. Brigitte Demes. Previous studies of the external morphology fossil hominin hindfoot bones have revealed unique mosaics of ape-like and human-like features that have complicated locomotor reconstruction of these extinct individuals. The goal of this study was to investigate whether the internal morphology (subchondral and trabecular bone) of these skeletal elements hold a diagnostic locomotor signal that may help to further characterize the nature of this mosaicism. Micro-computed tomography (µCT) images of associated hominoid hindfoot bones were obtained and morphological properties of the subchondral cortical and trabecular bone were quantified. Preliminary analyses indicate that in the human tibiotalar joint, the greatest subchondral cortical bone thickness and radio density, and trabecular bone volume and thickness were found in regions that agree with those that are in greatest compression during the push-off phase of the gait cycle, coinciding with the time of peak load. Furthermore, the regions within the joint exhibiting these relative indicators of bone strength differ among the hominoid species. The study of how these differences relate to habitual locomotor differences is ongoing, as well as investigation into patterns of the degree and direction of trabecular anisotropy and their relation to habitual ankle posture.
Su, Anne, Ian J. Wallace, and Masato Nakatsukasa. 2013. Trabecular Bone Anisotropy and Orientation in an Early Pleistocene Hominin Talus from East Turkana, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 64(6):667-677.
Itzhak, Nofit, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Negotiating the Politics and Ethics of Compassion: Christian Humanitarianism in Rwanda and France,' supervised by Dr. Thomas J. Csordas
Preliminary abstract: How do persons engaged in Christian humanitarianism become invested in this particular form of social action? What kinds of subjectivities and modes of social relatedness are created in the course of this practice? And how are emotions of care, such as love, compassion, empathy and sympathy, implicated in these processes? This project seeks to answer these questions through an ethnographic study of a Catholic charismatic humanitarian NGO in Rwanda and France. Specifically, it investigates the manners in which Christian aid workers negotiate the tensions between the humanitarian position, as one based on hierarchy and a bestowing of benevolence, and their religio-ethical ideals, which compel them to establish a relationship with aid recipients that is based on equality and fellowship. Having to inhabit this paradoxical position, and being acutely aware of it, Christian aid workers constantly reflect on the operation of emotions of care, attempt to cultivate them, and try to negotiate the tensions between what allows or hinders their flourishing in the course of humanitarian practice and interaction. By investigating the two interrelated levels through which emotions of care shape and drive Christian humanitarian action -- that of discourse, as the ethical foundation of humanitarian practice, and that of embodiment, as the interpersonal processes through which emotions of care become experientially real for people in the course of interaction -- this project will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of contemporary intersections between humanitarianism, religion, and ethics, as well as the interaction between culture, sociality, and emotions of care.
Moumtaz, Nada, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Piety in Markets of Inalienable Property: An Anthropology of Waqf, Beirut 1826 - present,' supervised by Dr. David W. Harvey
NADA MOUMTAZ, then a student at The City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received a grant in September 2007 to aid research on 'Piety in Markets of Inalienable Property: An Anthropology of Waqf, Beirut 1826-Present,' supervised by Prof. David Harvey. Waqf is one of the most enduring economic and religious institutions in the Muslim world. Dominant until the 19th century, waqf was discarded as inalienable (and hence 'precapitalist') during the property reforms of the first half of the 20th century. Since the 1990s and coinciding with the Islamic Revival and its emphasis on pious Muslim subjects, inalienable waqf is undergoing a revival. For 16 months, the researcher carried out ethnographic and archival research to investigate how inalienables (here waqfs), and the regime of value they embody, intersect with a private property regime. The grantee collected founding documents, accounting, appointments, and disputes around waqfs in 19th-century Beirut. She also recorded oral histories of three waqfs, and interviewed contemporary waqf makers. Evidence confirms that inalienables are not eliminated with the passage to market economies and private-property regimes, questioning the depiction of capitalism as a commodity economy and transition to capitalism as a withering of gift economies. Results indicate that inalienables are disciplined according to the moral order of the new property regime -- as well as to the characteristics of the moral subject, her/his duties, and the sites of morality -- without nonetheless eradicating the old moral order.
Craze, Joshua. U. of California, Berkeley CA - To aid research on 'At the Edge of the Territory: Disputes along the South Sudan Border,' supervised by Dr. Paul Rabinow.
JOSHUA CRAZE, then a graduate student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'At the Edge of the Territory: Disputes along the South Sudan Border,' supervised by Dr. Paul Rabinow. This research project analyzed the dynamics of conflict and territory in the contested area of Abyei, Sudan/South Sudan. Two groups principally inhabit the area. The transhumant Misseriya, who move their cattle south through the region in the dry season, feared that if Abyei were to join the nascent nation-state of South Sudan, their access to vital grazing pastures would be limited. The Ngok Dinka, the principal residents of the region, claim that Abyei is their ancestral homeland, and that the Misseriya have no residency rights in the area at all. Both groups made maximal territorial claims to once flexible areas of pastoralist grazing. Analyzing this conflict, research shows how discussions of borders by both groups have become part of a state discourse that is selectively taken up and used by both state and non-state actors. The dialectic at play on the borders of Abyei is one in which non-state concerns are transformed into the language of the state, and the Sudanese state uses non-state actors to deliberately obscure the borders of the territory.
Shankar, Shobana, U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'Wards and Workers: Christianity, Agency, and Social Mobility in Muslim, Hausa Society, 1899 to Present,' supervised by Dr. Edward A. Alpers
Haynes, Naomi Rae, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'When Prosperity Fails: the Faith Gospel And Gift Economies on the Zambian Copperbelt,' supervised by Dr. Joel Robbins
NAOMI HAYNES, then a student at the University of California - San Diego, La Jolla, California, received a grant in October 2007 to aid research on 'When Prosperity Fails: The Faith Gospel and Gift Economies on the Zambian Copperbelt,' supervised by Joel Robbins. During fieldwork on a township outside the city of Kitwe, Zambia, the grantee focused on the daily lives of members of independent Pentecostal Christian congregations. Through participant observation, ethnographic interviews, and surveys, this study followed the relationship between religious praxis and local political economy. Much of the connection between these two spheres crystallizes around a few important cultural boundaries, including those between paternal and fraternal axes of exchange, short- and long-term economic gains, and individualism and social embeddedness. By shaping the way believers navigate these social borders, participation in Pentecostalism facilitates creative responses to economic uncertainty. This project highlights the creative potential of this form of Christianity, thereby making important contributions toward an understanding of Pentecostalism as more than simply a response to global neoliberal capitalism, but rather as a productive site of social innovation and change.
Haynes, Naomi. 2013. On the Potential and Problems of Pentecostal Exchange. American Anthropologist 115(1):85-95.
Haynes, Naomi. 2012. Pentecostalism and the Morality of Money: Prosperity, Inequality, and Religious Sociality on the Zambian Copperbelt. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Insitute 18(1):123-139.
Mathis, Sarah M., Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'The Politics of Land: A Study of Power and Authority in Rural KwaZulu-Natal,' supervised by Dr. Donald L. Donham
SARAH M. MATHIS, while a student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded funding in July 2003 to aid research on land and political authority in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, under the supervision of Dr. Donald L. Donham. Through eighteen months of ethnographic research in a rural, Zulu-speaking community, Mathis examined the political and economic issues around land use and land allocation. Oral accounts of settlement patterns in the community under study suggested previously high levels of mobility and tenure flexibility due to the disruption of communities by the violent conflicts of the 1980s and early 1990s. During the period of Mathis' research, however, tenure flexibility was decreasing as rural communities were positioning themselves to take advantage of the land reform programs and new commercial opportunities that had opened up in the post-apartheid period. By researching shifts in urban migration and land use patterns, Mathis examined how new areas of conflict were emerging within households and communities, particularly over issues of gender and generation. Conflict over women's mobility was also a reflection of women's increased participation in the informal economy and in temporary jobs. These low-wage, insecure forms of employment had become increasingly common due to high levels of unemployment and the relaxation of restrictions on the informal economy. In addition, Mathis investigated the community's relationship with the neighboring commercial sugarcane farmers as the prospect of land reform and new labor laws shifted the balance of power between the two groups, creating new areas of conflict and uncertainty.
Mathis, Sarah M. 2007. The Politics of Land Reform: Tenure and Political Authority in Rural Kwazulu-Natal. Journal of Agrarian Change 7(1):99-120.
Mathis, Sarah M. 2013. From Warlords to Freedom Fighters: Political Violence and State Formation in Umbumbulu, South Africa. African Affairs 112(448):421-439