Vaughan, Charles L., London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Remaking People, Places, and Pasts: Maya Chorti Cultural Activism in Western Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Maurice E. Bloch
CHARLES L. VAUGHAN, then a student at London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom, received funding in February 2004 to aid research on 'Remaking People, Places, and Pasts: Maya Chorti Cultural Activism in Western Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Maurice E. Bloch. Since 1994, the Copan Valley in western Honduras, internationally famous for the ancient Mayan ruins of Copan, has borne witness to the growth of an indigenous movement: the National Council of Indigenous Maya Chorti of Honduras (CONIMCHH). Recognized by the Honduran state, CONIMCHH has fought aggressively for land titles for its membership while pursuing projects aimed at the revival of the Chorti Mayan language and Chorti cultural practices. Surrounding the membership of CONIMCHH, however, has been a pervasive complex of criticism, which argues that 'Chorti' only exist in Guatemala and not in Honduras. Over the course of twenty months of fieldwork, this research sought to probe the underlying history and assumptions of this complex and to explore in what ways CONIMCHH may have provided its members with a new language for describing themselves, and their pasts, in terms of 'being Chorti' in Honduras. While the lives of the men and women who form the membership of CONIMCHH are lived in a social landscape where the name 'Chorti' holds contradictory meanings, histories, and referents, this fieldwork showed that service and sacrifice for CONIMCHH are humble daily actions which speak for 'being Chorti' where words may not.
Laven, Nina, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Remaking Ancestry, Redrawing Aboriginality: The Life of Family Trees in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec,' supervised by Dr. Alaina Maria Lemon
NINA LAVEN, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received a grant in October 2006 to aid research on 'Remaking Ancestry, Redrawing Aboriginality: The Life of Family Trees in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec,' supervised by Dr. Alaina Maria Lemon. The research investigated the impact of folk ideas about 'race' and ancestry on DNA analysis, demonstrating how suppositions about race and North American settler and Native history are being used to generate a priori definitions of the genetic makeup of ancestral populations for genetic research. The grantee found that paternally inherited surnames are being used by geneticists to indicate the family histories of current day French Canadians. However, names are tacitly understood according to different frameworks within different groups. Within scientific contexts names are used as indicators of biological ancestry (French names mean French origins). Within broader French-Canadian circles, names are used as keys to recover personal histories and track French geographical and national origins. Within many Native circles, names are seen as subverting the search for roots and true ancestry: they are viewed as the stamps of a colonial clerical regime that converted natives in order to make them good French Catholic subjects. Research found that a struggle over history and political rights between French-Canadian nationalist and First Nations groups is being carried out through the debate about how to interpret names.
Bordia, Devika, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Local Governance Through Panchayats: Indigeneity, Law, and Sovereignty in Western India,' supervised by Dr. Thomas B. Hansen
DEVIKA BORDIA, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Local Governance through Panchayats: Indigeneity, Law, and Sovereignty in Western India,' supervised by Dr. Thomas B. Hansen. This project examines the relationship between legal and governmental institutions of the state, tribal panchayats, local community institutions. The grantee conducted fieldwork in the 'tribal' region of Southern Udaipur, Western India, tracing cases related to murder, violence, land claims and domestic disputes. The ways in which these cases were addressed involved complex negotiations between leaders of tribal panchayats, the police, lawyers and magistrates. This revealed how supposedly distinct legal systems are in effect a range of overlapping institutions, actors, artifacts and languages that evoke various formations of individual and community. Articulations of crime and violence within legal codes, though abstracted from local contexts for the sake of objectivity, are reflective of people and place and assume certain ideas of what it means to be 'tribal.' The project also examines the way in which language and ideas of the law weave into the fabric of everyday life and are used by leaders of panchayats in their work of dispute resolution. The grantee conducted extensive interviews and traveled with local leaders to understand the different ways they gain visibility and derive legitimacy. An examination of state organizations, NGOs and different social movements demonstrate how ideas of indigeneity are generated through their work, and the ways these ideas find their way into every day legal processes.
Peche, Linda Ho, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Constructing Self and Spirit: Home Altars and the Articulation of Vietnamese American Subjectivities,' supervised by Dr. Pauline Turner Strong
LINDA HO PECHE, then a student at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Constructing Self and Spirit: Home Altars and the Articulation of Vietnamese American Subjectivities,' supervised by Dr. Pauline Turner Strong. This project is about spiritual connection -- how the 'spiritual' is accessed, experienced and/or transformed in the materiality of everyday life for Vietnamese Americans. The context is a community envisioning itself emerging from war and refugee flight as well as grounding itself as truly American. Specifically, this project examines Vietnamese American home altars and shrines as social spaces where cultural, religious and political ideologies are experienced and expressed. It seeks to explore how religious experiences inform and are produced by a kind of 'spirit' of a community, addressed not through some static notion of 'identity' but, instead, as constituted (and continually re-constituted) through expressive practices. With this approach, the 'spirit' and 'spiritualities' of Vietnamese America are fulfilled through experience rather than revealed in a holistic sense. What emerges is a shifting and negotiated spectrum of belief and practice, navigated both through an exploration of different spiritual/spatial landscapes and collective diasporic imaginaries.
Freiburger, Nathaniel, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Cultures of Engineering & the Engineering of Politics:The Making of Lithium as an Object of Techno-scientific Knowledge & Politics in Bolivia,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena
NATHANIEL FREIBURGER, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Cultures of Engineering and the Engineering of Politics: The Making of Lithium as an Object of Techno-Scientific Knowledge and Politics in Bolivia,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena. The research consisted of fieldwork directed towards investigating the relationship between lithium production in Uyuni, Bolivia, and the politics of 'plurinationalism' within the allegedly post-neoliberal and post-socialist state of Bolivia. Initial research questions concerned two objects, lithium and the plurinational state, and their respective projects aimed at developing them. The fieldwork aimed at following how the entanglements of practices of various agents involved in these 'projects' produce spatial effects, through the materiality of infrastructural development inside and outside the department of Potosí, and how those effects intersect with controversies surrounding the 'plurinational' state. This question guided data collection in the region of Uyuni, which contains the 12,000km-sq Salar de Uyuni --the reservoir of over fifty percent of the world's usable lithium.
Swart, Patricia L., New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Film Practices, Globalization, and the Public Sphere in Kerala, India,' supervised by Dr. Rayna Rapp
PATRICIA L. SWART, while a student at New School University in New York, New York, was granted an award in December 2002 to aid research on film practices, globalization, and the public sphere in the state of Kerala, India, under the supervision of Dr. Rayna Rapp. Swart examined the ways in which globalization processes had transformed the portrayal of women in popular and art films and women's spectatorship of films in Kerala. Changes in film texts and spectatorship were found to be linked to shifts in gender identity, concepts of citizenship, and the shaping of the public sphere-all unique reactions to globalization in Kerala. Although the state had a long history of global trade and cultural assimilation, the newest wave of globalization had inspired violent protests and demonstrations. The Malayalam-language cinema of Kerala responded to global changes by making films that reverted from formerly more liberal and enlightened portrayals of women to a kind of traditionalism that glorified patriarchal behaviors and attitudes. Swart conducted fieldwork in several primary areas: spectatorship practices, film institutions, and film texts. Interviews, participant observation, and a study of archival sources indicated that despite Kerala's reputation as a model of development, women in the state were subjected to increasing restrictions on their mobility and participation in public events and to increasing violence and sexual harassment. Research on film and gender showed the links between globalization, inequality, and repression by revealing some of the tensions extant in Kerala, including high unemployment, increasing consumerism, and a high rate of suicide among women.
Kensinger, Steven A., U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN - To aid research on 'The Maori City: Disaster Capitalism, Tribal Identity, and Earthquake Reconstruction in Christchurch, New Zealand,' supervised by Dr. David Lipset
Preliminary abstract: This project is an ethnographic study of the post-earthquake reconstruction of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. The Canterbury region of New Zealand's South Island was struck by a series of devastating earthquakes between September of 2010 and June of 2011. More than 100,000 homes were damaged and 60% of businesses in the central city were displaced as a result of the earthquake. The recovery plan developed by the New Zealand government named Ngai Tahu, the largest Maori tribe in the South Island, as a 'strategic partner' in the reconstruction of the city. This project asks how the recognition of Ngai Tahu by the state as a stakeholder in the reconstruction of the city is transforming the meaning of Ngai Tahu identity in contemporary Christchurch. I will investigate how the earthquake recovery offers a way for Maori to enact their sovereignty through their recognition as a strategic partner, while also having dramatic impacts on the reproduction of Maori social organization and processes of ethnic identity formation.
Barber, Suzanne Marie, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Articulating the Animal: The Animal Welfare Movement and Changing Human and Animal Relations in China,' supervised by Dr. Sara L. Freidman
Preliminary abstract: Recently, the Chinese government has begun to crackdown on NGOs and social activism more broadly, raiding offices and arresting prominent activists. Despite these actions of the Chinese government, the animal welfare movement has continued to operate, and in some cases with the direct support of local government officials. My research will examine social activism and the changing social landscape of twenty-first century urban China. Through a twelve-month ethnographic study of the animal welfare movement in Guangdong Province, this project will examine the growing social consciousness within the post-reform generations under an unpredictable and frequently repressive government. This social consciousness encompasses growing concerns about issues of social justice, such as environmentalism, gender equality, LGBTQ rights and migrant workers' rights, as well as a growing rate of volunteerism in response to these concerns (Engebretsen 2013; Fleischer 2011). Based upon my preliminary research in which my informants made direct connections between human rights and animal welfare, I will ask three primary questions: (Q1) How have animal welfare organizations continued to operate during a time of harsh governmental crackdowns on other social organizations? (Q2) What connections exist between animal welfare organizations and other forms of activism and volunteerism? (Q3) What does the success of the animal welfare movement tell us about broader changes in the social landscape of urban China?
Noveck, Daniel B., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Musical Models of Ethnic Space: Raramuri Indian Fiddling in Chihuahua, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Claudio Lomnitz
DANIEL B. NOVECK, while a student at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, received funding in June 2001 to aid research on musical models of ethnic space among Rarámuri Indians in Chihuahua, Mexico, under the supervision of Dr. Claudio Lomnitz. Noveck examined Rarámuri musical practice in the communities of Munerachi and Coyachique, in the area of Batopilas, Chihuahua, Mexico. He focused on the ways in which music articulated local and regional constructions of race, place, and ethnicity and found that music played a critical role in framing relations between local and regional idioms of difference. In local contexts, sound was a key medium for representing and experiencing social spaces. Musical forms also served as a kind of deictics, mapping a wider regional space through the opposition of Pascol music, associated with the western part of the Sierra Tarahumara, and matachines music, which was played more exclusively in the eastern high plateau. Gatherings at regional centers used the localizing semiotics of music to project ethnic groupings at a regional level. Identity at the local level was construed largely in racial terms, although the drug business, tourism, and the commodification and dissemination of indigenous culture as promoted by the state had led to a privileging of 'the ethnic' over the local vernacular of race. By attending fiestas in regional centers such as Sisoguichi and Guachochi, which united people from various parts of the sierra, Rarámuris developed a kind of 'collective symbolic value' with which they attempted to mitigate the effects of the racist domination they experienced at home in the sierra.
Eastman, Benjamin H., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'En Tres y Dos (Full Count): Baseball and Moral Authority in Contemporary Cuba,' supervised by Dr. John D. Kelly
BENJAMIN EASTMAN, then a student of University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in August 2003 to aid research on 'En Tres y Dos (Full Count): Baseball and Moral Authority in Contemporary Cuba,' supervised by Dr. John D. Kelly. This project was concerned with the role of baseball in the constitution and contestation of Cuban-ness (cubanidad) during the current 'special period' in Cuban socialism. With funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation the grantee has completed twelve months of ethnographic and archival research in Havana, Cuba. This research has been guided by two inter-related objectives: a study of how historically and currently the Cuban socialist state has deployed baseball as both a public spectacle and a set of embodied practices that perform an authoritative version of cubanidad; and research into how these state-sponsored efforts are popularly received, interpreted, and, at times, contested. Research activities were centered on the following areas: 1) developing an understanding of the current political, economic, and social contexts of late Cuban socialism, including the resurgence of tourism, the effects of remittances, and the ongoing struggles presented by the United States imposed trade embargo; 2) an overview of the Cuban state sports bureaucracy (INDER), ranging from local neighborhood youth teams to the Cuban Olympic Committee, the 43rd National Series, and the Cuban national baseball team; 3) research among baseball coaches, players, and fans, as well as their respective families, including a season-long chronicling of the Havana Industriales, one of two Havana-based Cuban National Series teams.