Nibbe, Ayesha Anne, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Locating Accountability within 'Fractionated Sovereignty': The Role of Humanitarian Food Aid in Northern Uganda,' supervised by Carol A. Smith
AYESHA ANNE NIBBE, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Locating Accountability within 'Fractionated Sovereignty': The Role of Humanitarian Food Aid in Northern Uganda,' supervised by Dr. Carol A. Smith. This project looks at the role of humanitarian aid organizations in the context of the 23-year conflict in northern Uganda. As part of a Ugandan military strategy, 1.6 million Acholi were rounded into 'protected camps' spawning a humanitarian crisis where it was estimated that up to a thousand people per week died due to poor conditions. Agamben would call northern Uganda a 'zone of exception' -- a place where rule of law, and accountability, does not exist. The project delves into whether accountability can exist where state sovereignty is weak. And if systems of accountability do exist, how are they formed, transformed, and how do they operate? In the case of northern Uganda, there is much activity and discussion focused on creating systems of 'accountability.' However, the study suggests that accountability is not attainable because humanitarian aid is not meaningfully locked into social and political structures that bring leaders, aid practitioners, and 'beneficiaries' into accountable relationships. Informants included aid workers, local residents, displaced persons in camps, policy makers, and government officials. This research was conducted over 24 months between 2006-2008, spanning a period of active conflict, peace talks, and the beginning of a transition from humanitarian aid into post-conflict development.
Stanford U., Stanford, CA, Abdelrahman, Nisrin Elamin, PI - To aid research on 'Life, Law and Belonging: Contested Land and the Politics of Claim-making in Central Sudan,' supervised by Dr. James Ferguson
Preliminary abstract: The new, yet old, phenomenon of 'land grabbing' is often characterized in media and NGO reports as an unstoppable tidal wave that has hit the African continent. Informed by anthropological approaches, this project seeks to understand and examine 'foreign land grabs' as a multi-directional set of historically contingent interactions, practices and contestations shaped by heterogeneous interests and relationships. My investigation is situated in the agricultural Gezira region of central Sudan, where government elites recently devised a plan to revive the nation's post-secession economy, by attracting foreign investments in agriculture from within the Muslim world. Prompted in turn by the 2008 food and financial crises, foreign agribusiness companies have since leased large tracts of land, previously farmed or owned by Gezira residents, for large-scale food production. This project explores how these foreign land acquisitions are reshaping social relations between various stakeholders with competing claims to Sudanese land. Specifically, I seek to understand social transformations put in motion when different forms of religious and political authority, understandings of Islam and notions of belonging are invoked and mobilized to lay claim to land. I approach this inquiry by focusing on the role prominent Sufi Muslim leaders (shaykhs) are playing in mediating and shaping local efforts to reclaim lands leased to foreign investors.
Malone, Molly Sue, U. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada - To aid research on 'Living on the Skagit River: Native American Historical Consciousness and Relationships with the Aquatic Environment,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Granville Miller
MOLLY SUE MALONE, then a student at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, was awarded a grant in October 2009, to aid research on 'Living on the Skagit River: Native American Historical Consciousness and Relationships with the Aquatic Environment,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Granville Miller. This research examines Upper Skagit Indian Tribe members' historical consciousness of their families' settlement patterns and fishing practices in the Skagit River watershed over the past two hundred years, and ,asks what this consciousness reveals about how contemporary Native American relationships to land and water are shaped by colonial processes of land alienation and subsequent struggles for tribal recognition and access to aboriginal territory. Data was collected over a twelve-month period using three overlapping methods of inquiry: the collection of oral narratives with contemporary Upper Skagit people, participant observation within the Upper Skagit community, and archival work with documents pertaining to the post-contact history of the Skagit River valley as well as field notes and oral narrative transcriptions collected by earlier anthropologists working among the Upper Skagit throughout the 20th century. The data is compiled into family settlement narratives and an overall tribal narrative for the purpose of evaluating the various levels of historical consciousness pertaining to colonial impacts on the watershed .
Mitchell, Judith D., McGill U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'The Role of Gender in Property Rights and Natural Resource Management in a Pastoral Community, Northern Kenya', supervised by Dr. John G. Galaty
JUDITH D. MITCHELL, while a student at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, received funding in September 2002 to aid research on the role of gender in property rights and natural resource management in a pastoral community in northern Kenya, under the supervision of Dr. John G. Galaty. Over seven months in 2002-3, Mitchell carried out field research with pastoral women in three locations in northern Kenya (East Uaso Division in Samburu District and Karare and Songa Locations in Marsabit District). Her goal was to generate further understanding of the role of Samburu and Ariaal Rendille women in four primary realms: knowledge and management of natural resources, access to or ownership of land and other resources, access to cash income and the 'market,' and involvement in the genesis and mediation of conflict. Another objective was to investigate the extent of women's continuing relationships with in-laws and natal kin. Research methods included census surveys, mapping, participant observation, unstructured interviews with district and community leaders, semistructured interviews with women and men regarding household and natural resource management, focus groups with women and men to discuss household disputes and local conflict, and oral life histories with female and male elders. Preliminary findings indicated that in all three sites, the majority of women held a great deal of influential power within the political and socioeconomic spheres of pastoral household and community life. Women believed that with greater organization, they could play a stronger role in influencing family members and community and political leaders to eliminate pervasive livestock raiding and armed banditry in northern Kenya.
Velasco, Matthew Carlos, Vanderbilt U., Nashville, TN - To aid research on 'Burials and Boundaries: Bioarchaeological Perspectives on Social Differentiation and Integration in the Late Prehispanic Andes,' supervised by Dr. Tiffiny Audrey Tung
MATTHEW C. VELASCO, then a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, was awarded a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Burials and Boundaries: Bioarchaeological Perspectives on Social Differentiation and Integration in the Late Prehispanic Andes,' supervised by Dr. Tiffiny A. Tung. This project examined how the emergence of new burial traditions contributed to social cohesion and identity formation during a period of widespread ecological and political upheaval in the ancient Andes (AD 1000-1450). Funding supported archaeological excavation, digital mapping, and skeletal analysis of a large collection of human remains (representing over 200 individuals) recovered from two cemetery sites in the southern highlands of Peru. Using a bioarchaeological approach, this study explored if diverse social groups utilized mortuary buildings to integrate their dead and promote alliance formation, or if they alternatively maintained separate cemeteries to reify group boundaries based on kinship and resource rights. Preliminary results reveal heterogeneity in the style and degree of cranial modification within single tombs, tentatively supporting a model in which mortuary practices promoted solidarity and exchange between different kinship and ethnic groups. However, the elongated form of modification is virtually absent from the earliest burial contexts, suggesting that the consolidation of a regional ethnic identity may have occurred relatively late in prehistory, perhaps in response to Inka imperial expansion. Ongoing analysis will provide additional insights into the social identities of the dead and how they intervened in broader political and social transformations among the living.
Casas-Cortes, Maria Isabel, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid research on 'Expertise from Below: The Cultural Politics of Knowledge, Globalization and the Activist Research Movement in Spain, supervised by Dr. Arturo Escobar
MARIA ISABEL CASAS-CORTES, then a student at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Expertise from Below: The Cultural Politics of Knowledge, Globalization and the Activist Research Movement in Spain,' supervised by Dr. Arturo Escobar. This dissertation deals with the production of systematic knowledge and expertise from below, by exploring the growing phenomenon of 'activist research,' a form of 'in-house' investigation conducted by social movements as a venue for political activism. As fieldwork has indicated, activist research is usually conducted by non-accredited experts, and aims to produce a kind of knowledge that is both rigorous and oriented towards social justice. The focus is on a prolific 'activist research' community based in Madrid, Spain. The group, Precarias a la Deriva, was identified as a promising dissertation topic due to their innovative work and broader influence. This women's collective is conducting an extensive research project on global processes of economic flexibilization, and their effects on women's everyday lives. Through feminist research expeditions in the metropolis of Madrid, this women's activist research community attempts to develop innovative political actions appropriate to current transformations. Through the exploration of such 'dissenting expertise', this ethnographic study brings different scholarly literatures together, such as the growing field of Anthropology of Social Movements, Anthropology of Knowledge, Globalization Studies as well as the long standing tradition of Action Research.
Shamoon-Pour, Michel, State U. of New York, Binghamton, NY - To aid research on 'Assyrian Origins and Dispersals: A Genetic Study,' supervised by Dr. Dr. Andrew Merriwether
Preliminary abstract: In the Near East today, there are small communities of religious minorities whose identity and tradition links them to pre-Islamic, and sometime, pre-Christianity populations. The cultural isolation of these communities is often accompanied by traditional endogamy and therefore, these populations are believed to have experienced less admixture with other Near Eastern populations. Therefore, studying these minority groups may provide a unique insight into the population genetics of the Near East. This project will be the first to investigate the genetic maternal and paternal lineages of one these communities. Assyrians are Neo-Aramaic speaking Christians of the Upper Mesopotamia. The curiosity about the origin of Assyrians owes a lot to the antiquity of their language, their religion, and the proximity of their territory to the heartland of ancient Assyria. Focusing on the Assyrian population, this project will aim to investigate the role of sociocultural pressures on the genetic relatedness of Near Eastern populations. Taking a genetic approach, this project will also contribute to the debate on the origins and early migrations of the Semitic speaking populations. Finally, the genetic data will also be used to test the current hypotheses on the origin of Assyrians.
Chua, Emily Huiching, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on ''Culture Can Solve Problems': Communitarian Media Ethics and the Cultural Ambitions of Television Production in China,' supervised by Dr. Aihwa Ong
EMILY H. CHUA, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, received a grant in April 2009, to aid research on ''Culture Can Solve Problems': Communitarian Media Ethics and the Cultural Ambitions of Television Production in China,' supervised by Dr. Aihwa Ong. As economic reform transforms China's mass media from a formidable Party-propaganda apparatus into a teeming culture industry, how are state-employed media producers responding to the changing political and economic conditions of their work? In the early twentieth century, Chinese journalists saw themselves as intellectual-activists who gave voice to the conscience of society and guided the country towards self-improvement. During the Mao era, the Communist Party's claim to exclusive ideological leadership turned the mass media into a mouthpiece of the Party-state. The end of Mao's revolutionary project and the rise of Deng's market-based approach have left China's media producers struggling to redefine the nature of their work. On the one hand, commercialization depoliticizes the media, allowing it to operate more like a forum of society than an instrument of the state. On the other hand, media producers are themselves now at the mercy of commercial forces. In the struggle for economic survival, they cannot afford to play the social critic they aspire to be. Political propaganda comes to be replaced by consumer entertainment instead, and society's conscience remains in need of a voice. From this situation spring the many new and difficult ethical problems with which China's idealistic and energetic young media producers now grapple.
Njau, Jackson K., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Vertebrate Taphonomy and Paleoecology of Lake-Margin Wetlands during Oldowan Times in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine
JACKSON K. NJAU, while a student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, received an award December 2001 to aid research on the vertebrate taphonomy and paleoecology of lake-margin wetlands during Oldowan times in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, under the supervision of Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine. Njau's objective was to develop ecological models of landscape facets as they pertained to early hominids and large wetland vertebrate fauna during the Plio-Pleistocene at Olduvai Gorge. The ultimate goal was to understand the ecological contexts in which the behaviors of stone-tool-using human ancestors evolved. Studying the feeding behavior of captive crocodiles and their consumption of large mammalian carcasses, Njau developed basic taphonomic guidelines for distinguishing the effects of crocodilians from those of large terrestrial carnivores in bone accumulations. He also studied large-vertebrate bone assemblages on modern wetland land surfaces in Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lakes Manyara and Eyasi. Systematic and intensive bone surveys were carried out at a very fine landscape scale in order to match environmental settings that might have existed in ancient Olduvai lake deposits, where unusually rich paleontological and archaeological material has been collected. Modern analog studies provided a useful tool in developing techniques for identifying the taphonomic characteristics of landscape sub-environments for application to prehistoric landscapes.
Njau, Jackson K., and Leslea J. Hlusko. 2010. Fine-Tuning Paleoanthropological Reconnaissance with High-Resolution Satellite Imager: The Discovery of 28 New Sites in Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 59(6):680-684.
Njau, Jackson K., and Robert J. Blumenschine. 2006. A diagnosis of crocodile feeding traces on larger mammal bone, with fossil examples from the Plio-Pleistocene Olduvai Basin, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 50 (2006): 142-162