Rinck, Jacob Emanuel, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Political Competition in Nepal's Tarai: Between Regionalism, Labor Migration, and Patronage,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan
Preliminary abstract: How does patronage-based politics operate in 21st century state formation? This study of everyday politics in southern Nepal asks how patronage as cultural form is refashioned in its engagement with changing economic opportunities, even as renewed development efforts preach its end. Remittances from short-term labor migration to Malaysia and the Gulf now account for close to a third of Nepal's GDP. Most of the migrants are from rural backgrounds, where until recently unequal agrarian relations and elite control over developmental resources formed the basis for political authority, even after Nepal's democratic transition in 1990. How do the new flows of money change the ways in which people imagine and engage these modes of politics, and how do political elites respond? This project uses the competition between established political elites and their lower class, lower-caste challengers as empirical ground for pursuing this question. During 18 months of multi-sited ethnographic research between Kathmandu and a district in the southern plains, I will trace how national level politicians, their constituents, and other political actors, including aid donors and development projects, connect through their historically informed aspirations and everyday politics. Thus, my study foregrounds intertwined processes of contesting meanings and making alliances within, across, and against formal state institutions. Through this anthropology of politics, it clarifies the relationship between everyday politics, contending modernities, and the imagination of material resources, and conceptualizes state formation as continuous process of mutual disruptions.
Guney, Murat Kazim, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'In the Intersection of Neo-Liberal Market and Islamic Government: The Internally Displaced Kurds of Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth A. Povinelli
MURAT KASIM GUNEY, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'In the Intersection of Neo-Liberal Market and Islamic Government: The Internally Displaced Kurds of Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth A. Povinelli. This project examines the side effects of the neoliberal development and fast economic growth in Turkey on the everyday life of the Turkish and Kurdish internal migrants and working classes. The ethnographic site of the study is the Tuzla Shipyards Zone of Istanbul, the major ship production site of Turkey that is inhabited by the internal migrants from rural regions of Turkey. In Tuzla, the migrant laborers work for subcontractor firms in temporary jobs without having social security, payment guarantee, and required equipment for work safety. Consequently, since 1992 in Tuzla shipyards 143 workers died because of 'accidents' at work. Tuzla is a salient example about the mode of the economic development in Turkey. Turkey has neither a significant investment in technological research and development nor a company with a high brand-value. Instead, in order to compete with other developing countries Turkey's only offer is the cheap labor force. That is to say, the economic growth in Turkey is sustained through the presence of the cheap labor that requires persistent government oppression over the working classes. Under these severe conditions this research asks: 'What are the mechanisms that reproduce exploitation of the shipyard workers' bodies and labor and endure their sufferings?'
Watson, Margaret Kathleen, U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM - To aid research on 'From Rural Street Theater to Big City Extravaganza: The Manaus Boi-Bumba in an Urbanizing Brazil,' supervised by Dr. Suzanne Oakdale
MARGARET K. WATSON, then a student at University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, received funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'From Rural Street Theater to Big City Extravaganza: The Manaus Boi-bumbá in an Urbanizing Brazil,' supervised by Dr. Suzanne Oakdale. This study focused on the Boi-bumbá festival of Manaus, capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Over the last few decades the Boi-bumbá, which tells the folkloric story of the death and resurrection of a rancher's favorite bull, has grown from a humble street drama associated with the rural poor into a highly mediated, government-sponsored, urban extravaganza in which teams battle to present the best version of the drama. Through life historical interviews with festival participants, musicians, artists, neighborhood politicians, and city tourism officials, this research investigated the meaning of Boi-Bumbá festivals to participants in the neighborhood of Educandos, where increasingly individuals self-identify as Caboclos. This research showed that the Boi-bumbá serves as a core of neighborhood sociality, providing a safe space for otherwise marginalized individuals, including older women, at-risk youth, and transvestites. Additionally, the festival functions as a realm for local musicians and artists to professionalize. Finally, the Boi-bumbá, the 'Caboclo opera,' is being implemented as a branding device for cities throughout Brazilian Amazônia. In short, the Boi-bumbá of Educandos is an emblem of Caboclo pride for participants. This, however, is part of a regional process of image creation aimed at distinguishing Amazônia from the rest of Brazil.
Lin, Emily Xi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Disability's Star-Children: Autism and the Remaking of Urban China's Moral Order,' supervised by Dr. Stefan Helmreich
EMILY XI LIN, then a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Disability's Star-Children: Autism and the Remaking of Urban China's Moral Order,' supervised by Dr. Stefan Helmreich. This research contributes a multi-sited ethnography of the social life of autism as a psychiatric category in contemporary China. Based on multi-sited ethnography in homes, clinics, autism rehabilitation centers, and philanthropic organizations, the project pays attention to the social meanings and practices of autism caregiving in contemporary China amidst social, educational, and urban-rural healthcare disparities. It is argued that autism illuminates moral crises in three domains: parent-child relations, rural-urban healthcare disparities, and citizens' disquiet with Chinese society's apparent lack of humanity. This thesis investigates how citizens themselves perceive deficiencies in Chinese morality, civility, and scientific literacy, and how these deficiencies are thrown into relief by the needs of autistic persons. While China's biomedical institutions and humanitarian organizations foster novel autism parental practices and ethics in the name of true parental love and scientific modernity, the grantee argues that these efforts shift the burden of care of autistic persons from the state to families, thus increasing the burden of care on rural families in China. In paying attention to how disabled citizens are nurtured or neglected due to choices made by 'good' or 'selfish' parents, findings demonstrate how moral categories are key to post-socialist governmentality-the art, techniques, and practices of governance-in China.
Platzer, David L., Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'The Value of Autism: Labor and the Production of Autistic Adulthood,' supervised by Dr. Anand Pandian
Preliminary abstract: This study focuses on the creation of jobs for autistic adults, conceived of as a form of social welfare. Based in the metropolitan San Francisco Bay Area, it centers on concentric networks of parent advocates, social service providers, social enterprises, and corporate human resources initiatives. These networks have developed programs that seek to address the problem of an aging autistic populace -- 85% to 93% of whom are currently unemployed -- by incubating opportunities for sustainable labor. These jobs range from minimum-wage car washing positions for those on the lower end of the autism spectrum to software testing, hardware maintenance, and better compensated forms of technological work for those on the higher end. This research investigates how the promotion of waged labor, and its accordant emphasis on the production of economic value, intersects with the personal, communal, and ethical values which autistic individuals (and their families) themselves consider valuable or to which they themselves aspire. How might neoliberal imperatives for market solutions to the problems of social welfare, and the assertion of economic autonomy as the measure of mature adulthood, shape these programs and the ethical and social values they promote? Through interviews, participant observation, and discourse analysis this research will investigate the relationship between the neoliberal insistence on the market as the medium of welfare with (and against) the personal values, diverse aspirations, and neurological limits of autistic adults themselves. What, in short, is at stake for young autistic adults who are increasingly encouraged to organize their future, and understand their social 'worth,' though the production of economic value?
Gastrow, Claudia, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Grounding Citizenship: The Politics of Property in Post-conflict Luanda,' supervised by Dr. Jean Comaroff
CLAUDIA GASTROW, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Grounding Citizenship: The Politics of Property in Post-Conflict Luanda,' supervised by Dr. Jean Comaroff. Since the end of the Angolan civil war (1975-2002), the Angolan state and private concerns have invested significant resources in the redevelopment of the capital, Luanda. The remaking of the city has involved a strategy of relocating thousands of informal settlement residents to new state housing areas on the periphery of the city. The mobilization of formal planning mechanisms after years of the state seemingly leaving residents to occupy and build according to their own wishes has come into conflict with established means of urban expansion, forcing residents to rethink strategies for gaining access to housing and land. This research tracks how housing has acted as a means for the residents to assess their relationship to the state over the last thirty years. More particularly, it looks at how, over the last decade, demolition and rehousing have impacted urban residents' notions of citizenship. Based on interviews and participant observations in Luanda's informal settlements, and with housing rights groups, victims of demolitions, state representatives, and historical research in Luanda's archives, this research connects micro-level discussions about housing, and acts of housing construction, to larger national and state discourses about the meaning of democracy and social inclusion in Angola.
Thompson, Niobe S., Cambridge U., Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Belonging in the North: Migrant Experiences and Identity in Northeast Siberia,' supervised by Dr. Piers G. Vitebsky
NIOBE S. THOMPSON, while a student at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, received funding in August 2002 to aid research on migrant experiences and identity in northeastern Siberia, under the supervision of Dr. Piers G. Vitebsky. In the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug (Chukotka) of northeastern Russia and in regions of central Russia, Thompson conducted fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork on non-native senses of belonging. The research was intended to explore the negotiation of identity in a traditionally migrant, transient population, an issue with implications for the future of communities in the Russian Far North and the success of planned programs of northern depopulation and resettlement. The coincidence between Thompson's project and a major program of modernization initiated in 2001 by a new administration under the leadership of wealthy governor-oligarch Roman Abramovich was intentional, because the challenge of an outsider-led program of change was expected to galvanize local identity in unexpected ways. Research findings revealed that a strongly localist sense of belonging and a rejection of mainstream Soviet and Russian life had characterized the settler community since its emergence, and that authority and entitlement through 'northern experience' were key features of local discourse. The challenges of outsider-led modernization to the established population met discourses of resistance long cultivated in Chukotka and endangered its long-term sustainability.
Koch, Insa Lee, U. of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on ''Anti-Social Behaviour': Law and Order in the British Working Class,' supervised by Dr. David Gellner
INSA LEE KOCH, then a student at the University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on ''Anti-Social Behavior': Law and Order in the British Working Class,' supervised by Dr. David Gellner. This research investigated the role of the state in the life of white working class people on a post-industrial council estate in England. As geographically demarcated areas of government-built housing, often characterized by a strong involvement of state authorities and high degrees of welfare dependency, council estates can be seen as primary instances of state-building projects. Based upon ethnographic fieldwork conducted on one of Britain's largest council estates, this research investigated how its local people come to imagine and make use of the state in their everyday lives. It found that people often treat the state as a personalized resource to rely upon to upset, modify, and generate intimate social relationships that otherwise exist beyond the domain of official state intervention. In a context characterized by intra-community divisions and enmities, an array of state actors -- such as the police, social services and council officers -- then become potential allies to mobilize in one's pursuit of reputation, recognition and justice. Looking at the state, not as a distinct entity on its own, but as an intimate extension of people's social lives, this research offered insights into the sociality of British working-class communities, as well as into broader anthropological discussions of the state, citizenship, and democratic politics.
Belmar Pantelis, Carolina Andrea, U. of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina - To aid research on 'Plant Exploitation amoung Steppe Hunter Gatherers: An Approach from Plant Microfossils, Baño Nuevo 1 Cave Site,' supervised by Dr. Cristian Favier Dubois
CAROLINA BELMAR PANTELIS, then a student at University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Plant Exploitation among Steppe Hunter Gatherers: An Approach from Plant Microfossils, Baño Nuevo 1 Cave Site,' supervised by Dr. Cristian Favier Dubois. This project was oriented to study the plant remains at a Patagonian steppe hunter-gatherer site, Baño Nuevo (11,480-3000 AP, Aisén, Chile), which is a type of evidence not commonly used in hunter-gatherer investigations. In order to determine what plants are being exploited at Baño Nuevo, our studies focused on plant microfossils present in stone tool residues and fruits and seeds recovered from the Early, Middle and Late Holocene Occupations defined for the site. The archaeological seeds and fruits demonstrate the exploitation of local plants -- shrubs with edible fruits and herbaceaous plants -- that are recurrent during the three periods of occupation. Residue analysis show the use of a diverse set of stone tools for the procurement and/or processing of plant resources, indicating the multifunctionality of these instruments. There is also a constant in the plants that were identified for each occupation, which corresponds to local herbaceaous plants. Tus we were able to identify plant remains for the three Holocene occupations of Baño Nuevo, indicating a tendency to exploit local plants near to the site, as well as the presence of a plant from humid environments signaling access to these areas and, thus, mobility or exchange.
Belmar, Carolina, and Verónica Lema (eds.) 2015. Avances y Desafíos Metodológicos en Arqueobotánica: Miradas Consensuadas y Diálogos Compartidos desde Sudamérica. Monografías Arqueológicas, Facultad de Patrimonio Cultural y Educación, Universidad SEK: Chile.