Theissen, Anna J., U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'The Location of Madness: Spiritist Psychiatry and the Meaning of Mental Illness in Contemporary Brazil,' supervised by Dr. Nancy Scheper-Hughes
ANNA J. THEISSEN, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, was awarded funding in October 2005 to aid research on 'The Location of Madness: Spiritist Psychiatry and the Meaning of Mental Illness in Contemporary Brazil,' supervised by Dr. Nancy Scheper-Hughes. This ethnographic research in two Spiritist psychiatric hospitals in Brazil investigated how belief influences professional medical ethics and choices, i.e. the moral underpinnings and cultural construction of psychiatric diagnosis. Spiritists -- followers of a 'modern spirit possession religion' with Euro-American origins -- administer one third of private psychiatric hospitals in Brazil, in many of which standard neuroscientific practice is integrated with spiritual treatment modalities: information gleaned in Spiritist séances oriented psychiatric treatment and vice versa. Spiritist treatment of mental illness was two-pronged: one dimension concentrated on the obsessing spirits trying to persuade them to leave their victims; the other focused on the moral re-education of patients. Expert and lay concepts of mental illness and its spiritual influences (i.e. the attribution of causes and responsibility) differed widely. Many patients and their caretakers sought out Spiritist psychiatric treatment hoping that it would relief them from the social stigma associated with mental illness by explaining their affliction as spirit possession. In contrast, Spiritist psychiatrists stressed the patient's self-responsibility, and their spiritual diagnosis and de-obsession treatments uncovered the supposed immoral character and criminal past lives of the mentally ill.
Jamil, Nurhaizatul Jamila, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Marketing Manners Makeover: Women, Islam and Self-Help in Contemporary Singapore,' supervised by Dr. Robert Launay
Preliminary abstract: Since 2007, Singaporean graduates of Egypt's Al-Azhar University have helped pioneer a new wave of 'religious' classes that incorporate American self-help rhetoric with Sufi theology and poetry, while closely referencing the Quran and Hadith (prophetic traditions). These returnees offer seminars such as 'The 7 Habits of Effective Muslims,' 'Al-Ghazali's Beginning of Guidance,' 'Manners Makeover for Wives,' 'Islamic Business Ethics,' and 'Finding your Ideal Muslim Partner.' Like their counterparts in Indonesia, Malaysia, Yemen, and Egypt, the returnees market their costly lessons as opportunities for young ethnic and religious minority Muslim graduates of Singapore's secular universities to apply new understandings of their faith to everyday spheres. Further distinguishing themselves from older preachers, they utilize new media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to proselytize and market their lessons. While their seminars attract male participants, the vast majority of students are professional women desiring to fashion 'ideal' Muslim selves while pursuing their careers. Women attend these classes dressed in the latest Islamic fashions, armed with technological gadgets, and virtually archive their participation on Facebook. How can we understand young women's attraction to, and use of, these classes? What is the relationship between the proliferation of these new education ventures and women's anxieties concerning the pursuit of economic mobility, religiosity, and love in a neoliberalizing economy? How does women's embrace of globally commodified Islam, new media, and eclectic pedagogical incentives reframe notions of Islamic 'piety' and 'education,' and pose challenges to dominant male religious authority and interpretation?
Hartikainen, Elina Inkeri, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'From the Public Sphere to Spirit Speech: Negotiating Discourses of Africanness in Brazilian Candomblé,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein
ELINA INKERI HARTIKAINEN, then a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in May 2008, to aid research on 'From the Public Sphere to Spirit Speech: Negotiating Discourses of Africanness in Brazilian Candomblé,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein. This project examines how Candomblé practitioners in Salvador, Brazil, come together as self-reflexive religious publics around particular discursive configurations of African religiosity, religious intolerance and race. The study traces how the hierarchical social settings of the Candomblé religion and Brazilian society order the construction, uptake, and negotiation of public discourses on race and religion among Afro-Brazilian adherents of Candomblé. Closely examining public conferences and marchpes organized by religious practitioners, the every-day and ritual practices of Candomblé temples, and media portrayals of the religion (main-stream as well as alternative media produced by practitioners), the project explores how Candomblé adherents imagine and perform a religious public in addressing public discourses on their religion, Africanness, and race. Significantly, the grantee demonstrates how the formation of Candomblé publics relies not only on a shared orientation towards specific texts, but also particular religious dispositions towards discourse circulation. Thus, rather than an egalitarian public where discourse flows freely, Candomblé practitioners envision themselves participating in and contributing to Brazilian society and politics according to the 'African' principles of Candomblé; most importantly, a rigid ritual hierarchy that determines who can say what, when, and to whom, and a reliance on personalized oral communications over text and other broadcast media forms.
Carney, Joshua Luke, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Storms Through the Valley: Fact, Fiction and the US Image in Turkish Popular Media,' supervised by Dr. Ilana Miriam Gershon
JOSHUA L. CARNEY, then a student at University of Indiana, Bloomington, Indiana, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Storms through the Valley: Fact, Fiction, and the US Image in Turkish Popular Media,' supervised by Dr. Ilana M. Gershon. Research examined the publics and discourses emerging around two immensely influential Turkish TV dramas ('dizi' in Turkish). The contemporary mafia drama, Valley of the Wolves, and the Ottoman costume drama, Magnificent Century, relate disparate periods and cater to very different audiences, but both have set the political and social agendas in Turkey due to the uneasy blend of fact and fiction in their plots. The project focuses on the increasing relevance of screen culture in the Turkish milieux through an ethnographic engagement with the publics generated by these shows, touching on conspiracy theory and nostalgia as strategies for coping in an era of multiple modernities, the creation and maintenance of gendered and national identities, and the political implications of the international distribution of these shows.
Larney, Eileen, State U. of New York, Stony Brook, NY - To aid research on 'The Rules to Randomness: Social Relationships and Infant Handling in Phayre's Leaf Monkeys,' supervised by Dr. Andreas Koenig
EILEEN LARNEY, then a student at State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York, received funding in January 2005 to aid research on 'The Rules to Randomness: Social Relationships and Infant handling in Phayre's Leaf Monkeys,' supervised by Dr. Andreas Koenig. While numerous relationships are driven by kin selection, investing in unrelated individuals seems surprising unless an individual is gaining something in return. This project explores female affiliation and infant handling in Phayre's leaf monkeys. Behavioral observation (PKWS, Thailand; January-August 2005) and molecular analysis (NYU; June 2006-May 2007) were conducted to determine the genetic relationships of potentially unrelated females, to explore the benefits of allomothering and affiliation, and to determine the impact of kin selection and reciprocal altruism on female social relationships. Focal sampling using instantaneous and continuous recording served to collect data on activity, agonism, grooming, proximity and infant handling. To determine kin relationships, individuals are being genotyped using >20 polymorphic microsatellite loci that were selected after intensive screening. Maternal rank and physical condition significantly influence the rate of infant development. Available data will explore the potential effect of allomothering. Investigating reciprocation and interchange of infants, infant handling and grooming will determine if these serve as commodities to be exchanged among females and how fluctuations in infant supply may affect dyadic relationships. Preliminary results indicate that rank, tenure, and reproductive state influence who handles infants and newly immigrant females appear to allomother to integrate into the complex female social network.
Ihmoud, Sarah Emily, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Policing the Intimate in Contemporary Israel,' supervised by Dr. Charles R. Hale
Preliminary abstract: his project investigates the role of sexual racism and gender violence in Israeli settler colonialism, and the extent to which territorial expansion relies on ceding state power to civil society actors. Israeli state securitization and surveillance strategies, which utilize a variety of juridical-spatial strategies of segregation (e.g. dividing walls and checkpoints), are increasingly echoed in informal mechanisms of civil society control of the most intimate relations--what I call 'social forms of policing.' The recent conviction in a Jerusalem court of a Palestinian man for 'rape by deception' of a Jewish woman and the 'lynching' of a young Palestinian man accused of 'making passes at Jewish girls' illustrate this trend. The aims of this project are threefold: First, to examine aspects of Israeli state policies that regulate the Palestinian body and intimate sphere and second, to examine the rise of surveillance strategies that move beyond the formal bounds of the state--social forms of policing the intimate. Finally, given the polarization emanating from both the Israeli state and civil society, to examine the forms of and motivations for transgressing racial boundaries and engaging in interracial intimacy. Despite Israeli state policies discouraging interracial sociability and extensive social forms of policing, youth from both groups regularly and extensively defy these limits. This is especially true for male Palestinian citizens of Israel, and female Jewish Israelis. These defiant youth are the primary subjects of my ethnography. The politics of erotics at play in these subjects' negotiation of social intimacy and interracial sexuality destabilize the Israeli state's imaginary and open possibilities for newly imagined futures of ending military occupation and pathways to Israeli Jewish-Palestinian coexistence.
Kiel, Michelle Lea, U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'Experts and the Subjects of Expertise: Education and Development in Madagascar,' supervised by Dr. Brenda Chalfin
MICHELLE L. KIEL, then a student at University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Experts and the Subjects of Expertise: Education and Development in Madagascar,' supervised by Dr. Brenda Chalfin. As developing nations attempt to align their development policies to neoliberal ideology and the goals of international organizations, rural development projects are woven into new and dynamic relationships with the communities they serve, partner agencies, and state institutions. This research investigated: 1) how international agendas and agencies, working with the state, structure the implementation of development projects aimed at influencing rural development through education and training; 2) how this interaction influences the content of agricultural knowledge; and 3) how social inequality is affected by these relationships. Fieldwork focused on two rural development projects in the region of Atsinanana, Madagascar, from July 2008 to March 2009. Ethnographic research was conducted among rural inhabitants, project participants, instructors and administrators, and the representatives of partner organizations. Preliminary findings suggest that inter-organizational partnerships encourage the standardization of agricultural knowledge, however their influence over individual programs tends to be partial. While the projects promote agricultural knowledge, the material and symbolic benefits of knowledge tend to be reserved for elite actors. The projects themselves are contingent on the ability of project administrators to master certain expert practices while aligning the projects themselves to the changing discourses of governmental and international organizations.
Maldonado, Andrea, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Culture: The New Drug of Choice in Mexico City,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Gutmann
ANDREA MALDONADO, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Culture: The New Drug of Choice in Mexico City,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Gutmann. This dissertation explores new forms of state-sponsored care among low-income Mexicans in relation to the places where they surface and the interests fueling their support. Since 2002, an assortment of 'cultural therapies' (from yoga to tai chi) has emerged as Mexico's prescription of choice to prevent and treat what authorities identify as 'culturally transmitted diseases' (such as diabetes) among the urban poor. In Mexico City, these measures take shape in health institutes, cultural centers, parks, and streets. The growth of this campaign-which blames sickness on the culture of poor people and outsources their care to non-medical providers-raises questions about how states manage the production and circulation of knowledge in this nascent health arena, and why ordinary Mexicans subscribe to these policies. This study investigates the nuances and contradictions of this 'turn to culture,' suggesting that in spite of its appeal, it may be exacerbating aspects of inequality in public health. It reveals how the enactment of cultural healing in place encourages new techniques of self-care and new sites of social differentiation. Health services constituted outside clinical settings, but operating with institutional legitimacy, can generate new exchanges-even as they also engender novel practices of state and expert surveillance.
Danusiri, Aryo, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Sufi Bikers and Arab Saints: Islam, Media, and Mobility in Urban Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Mary Steedly
Preliminary abstract: A striking new phenomenon in Indonesia since the fall of Suharto (1998) is the heightened public visibility of different Islamic groups, which vie with each other in the national capital, Jakarta, and elsewhere for attention. This project focuses on the Sufi-inspired voluntary study groups led by scholars of Arab Hadrami descent. The groups' weekly multimedia performances, which started in 2003, unfold in Jakarta's streets, taking advantage of the perpetual traffic jams by engaging passers-by and halted cars. These motorcades move across and around Jakarta's streets, parks, and other public places, attracting ten of thousands of young adherents. The followers of this movement are highly mobile, using motorbikes and Internet and mobile communication technologies. Remarkably, these weekly events celebrate the Maulid or birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, which until recently, was an annual event sponsored by the State as well as celebrated through a range of vernacular religious rituals. I examine the link between mobility and the formation of (1) an emerging Islamic public; (2) religiously coded public spaces; (3) and urban vernacular networks. I ask the following questions in this project: how do these practices of circulation shape religious experience and address the political interests of the participants? What tactics do study groups utilize to navigate the spatial, social, and political landscapes of Jakarta? What kind of local, national and transnational networks do they have to support this strategy of preaching? By focusing on the mobility of mawlid's people, media, and commodities, I am reinstating the centrality of media and the materiality of religious practices in the process of community making -- something that has been overlooked in the study of religion and media.