Johnson, Alix Barrie, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'From Financial Hub to Information Haven: Icelandic Information Economies, Technofutures and National Dreams,' supervised by Dr. Lisa Rofel
Preliminary abstract: The financial crisis of 2008 devastated Iceland's economy and destabilized its sense of identity: having quickly become one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it suddenly looked powerless and peripheral again. Projects of economic recovery, then, also require national re-imagining. This project asks how Icelanders are re-making senses of self, place, and future in the wake of the crisis, by following one major project of national and economic revival: an effort to make Iceland an 'information haven'. By building data centers, founding start-ups, and passing 'information-friendly' legislation, Icelanders hope to carve out a new niche and attract global data to Iceland's shores. The project has sparked discussion and debate on what kind of place Iceland is and will be: a connected, cosmopolitan and tech-savvy data center? Or once again an outpost, the digital equivalent of an offshore bank? By following the process of re-inventing Iceland as an 'information haven,' I trace these national imaginaries as they are materially made.
Nida, Worku, U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'Entrepreneurship Development in Ethiopia: A Case Study of Gurage Entrepreneurs,' supervised by Dr. Sondra Hale
WORKU NIDA, while a student at University of California, Los Angeles, California, was awarded a grant in May 2002 to aid research on 'Entrepreneurship Development in Ethiopia: A Case Study of Gurage Entrepreneurs,' supervised by Dr. Sondra Hale. This study is based on a 21-month period of extensive ethnographic and archival research on the development of Gurage entrepreneurship in Ethiopia, carried out from August 2002 to the present, of which the first year of field research was supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation (August 2002-August 2003). The study explores how and why the one-time sedentary agriculturalist Gurages became the preeminent entrepreneurs of Ethiopia, and how entrepreneurship became Gurage within the context of an emergent nation-state historically. The Gurage redefined their identities, Gurageness and Ethiopian nationhood in terms of their entrepreneurial success, hard work, ethics, and high mobility, practices that have significant impacts on the national ethnic landscapes, division of labor and the kinds of peoples these interactive processes created in modern Ethiopia. It narrates an historical story that links Gurageness to the development of a nation-state and different (sub) sectors of capitalism/global politics, and portrays a picture of Gurage entrepreneurs creating socially expedient versions of Gurageness in a dance between national power-holders' discourses and that of their 'fund of resources' in Gurage society. It intends to show that dialectic in kinship, gender, constitution of different versions of Gurage ethnicity, and Ethiopian nationhood at large. The research (re)conceptualizes (Gurage) entrepreneurialism as a kind of 'social movement,' as a process in and through which people (re)fashion identities, and self-other configurations. Although grounded in local experiences of Gurage entrepreneurs in Ethiopia, this study constitutes an ethnography of modernity that speaks to the larger issues of social change, including differential entrepreneurial success, culture, structure, agency, nation-building, and identity.
Cumberland, Linda A., Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'A Grammar of Assiniboine,' supervised by Dr. Douglas R. Parks
LINDA A. CUMBERLAND, while a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, received funding in January 2001 to aid research on a grammar of Assiniboine, under the supervision of Dr. Douglas R. Parks. Cumberland conducted 12 months of research at several Assiniboine reserves in Saskatchewan, Canada, in order to write a grammar of this severely endangered member of the Siouan language family. Most of the research was conducted at Carry The Kettle reserve, near Regina, Saskatchewan, where the majority of Canada's 50 remaining native speakers of Assiniboine live. To create a temporary speech community where none existed, Cumberland created what she called 'language circles,' bringing together small groups of fluent speakers for a day and recording their conversation. This method of producing spontaneous speech yielded a wealth of forms and information that would have been unattainable in formal elicitation interviews. Portions of the dialogues were transcribed and analyzed, revealing grammatical particles previously unknown and pragmatic use of known forms in novel ways. Cumberland also conducted methodologically standard elicitation sessions in which she recorded a range of stories and songs, including a set of local histories of supernatural events. Data collected during this project were to be compared with data collected in the 1980s and 1990s by Douglas R. Parks (Indiana University) at Fort Belknap, Montana, to write a culturally informed grammar of Assiniboine that reflected regional variations.
Starzmann, Maria Theresia, State U. of New York, Binghamton, NY - To aid research on 'Embodied Knowledge and Community Practice: Stone Tool Production at FistiKi Höyük,' supervised by Dr. Reinhard W. Bernbeck
MARIA STARZMANN, then a student at State University of New York, Binghamton, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2008 to aid research on 'Embodied Knowledge and Community Practice: Stone Tool Production at Fistikli Höyük,' supervised by Dr. Reinhard W. Bernbeck. Based on an intensive study of close to 14,000 lithic artifacts, it was the goal of this research project to analyze the technological organization of stone tool production at the 6thmillennium BCE site of Fistikli Höyük in southeastern Turkey. Funding supported the research phase when detailed data on individual pieces of lithic manufacturing debris and tools were recorded in order to document the technological practices involved in Halaf lithic production. Going beyond the established categories of formal artifact typologies, both metric and non-metric attributes (type of retouch, usewear, termination, etc.) have been recorded. The evaluation of these data involves analyses of debitage as well as tool standardization and possible forms of spatial segregation within the site and across occupational phases. Similar technological practices -- indicated by artifact standardization and spatial associations -- are understood as the result of shared embodied practices of craft production constitutive of 'communities of practice.' Results thus far indicate an expedient lithic technology with a high level of technological variety. After completion of this project, research results shall be shared with the wider academic community as well as the local public in southeastern Turkey in the form of a small museum exhibit.
Hickel, Jason Edward, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Producing Citizens: Migrant Labor, Trade Unions, and the Making of Political Subjectivity in South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Ira Bashkow
JASON HICKEL, then a student at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, was awarded a grant in April 2008 to aid research on 'Producing Citizens: Migrant Labor, Trade Unions, and the Making of Political Subjectivity in South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Ira Bashkow. This dissertation explores the reasons for long-standing and extremely violent political conflict in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, between rural Zulus affiliated with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and urban Zulus affiliated with the African National Congress (ANC). This project views the conflict as a clash between two divergent moral orders whose parameters were produced by the colonial migrant labor system that separated and differentially structured rural homesteads and urban townships. The moral cosmology that rural Zulus espouse links principles of gender difference, hierarchy, and encompassment in the homestead to social fertility and good fortune. Through this paradigm they interpret the liberal-democratic policies of the ANC -- which equalize persons and dismantle differences -- as a threat to this order. To rural Zulus, 'democracy' promotes a sterile sameness that obliterates the conditions for social reproduction and induces all manner of misfortune, justifying a violently defensive response. This project endeavors to explain violent resistance to democratic policy by taking such resistance seriously within its own moral universe. This approach helps interrogate the Eurocentric categories of personhood and interest assumed in most accounts of post-colonial conflict in Africa, and seeks to increase understanding of how domestic moral values are central to events of political history.
Hickel, Jason. 2012. Social Engineering and Revolutionary Consciousness: Domestic Transformations in Colonial South Africa. History and Anthropology 23(3):301-322.
Mendoza-Zuany, Rosa G., U. of York, York, UK - To aid research on 'Dealing with Cultural Diversity in the Process Towards Autonomy in Oaxaca, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Rob Aitken
ROSA G. MENDOZA-ZUANY, then a student at York University, York, United Kingdom, received funding in December 2003 to aid research on 'Dealing with Cultural Diversity in the Process Towards Autonomy in Oaxaca, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Rob Aitken. Fieldwork was focused on examining the role of dialogue in the ongoing process of building autonomy in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, Mexico, a region characterized by its cultural diversity. Data were gathered on social, economic, and political organization of two Zapotec communities that have experienced de facto autonomy and considerable re-appropriation of power. People's accounts of their experience of autonomy have shown that it has been practiced and built on the ground and not 'demanded' as a product of legal changes and political reorganization. The data showed how dialogue plays a crucial role in the accommodation and negotiation of interests, objectives, and actions within the communities and in their relations with the exterior. Special emphasis was placed on levels of dialogue practiced for decision-making and living-together processes within the communities and for interaction with neighbors, governmental bodies, and the outside world. In the middle of power relations, these communities negotiate their autonomy and power within their jurisdictions but emphasizing positive interactions with their interlocutors. Preliminary findings include the observations that cultural difference and indigenous identities are not stressed in the process toward autonomy but local identities rooted in origin and belonging to the communities. Focused on the process of building autonomy and re-appropriating power through dialogue, this research provides an insight into indigenous peoples' alternatives to confrontation and demands focused on de jure autonomy dependent on legal reforms and reorganization of political-administrative divisions in order to deal with diversity.
Carlson, Jennifer Douglass, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Generating Landscapes: The Impact of Wind Turbine Installation on Frisian Communities in Coastal Northern Germany,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen C. Stewart
JENNIFER D. CARLSON, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Generating Landscapes: The Impact of Wind Turbine Installation on Frisian Communities in Coastal Northern Germany,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen C. Stewart. This project employed participant observation, interviews, and archival research to explore practices of speculation that have arisen with the advent of renewable energy in rural northern Germany. The spread of wind turbines, solar panels, and bio-gas plants across Ostfriesland, Lower Saxony, as well as an influx of jobs in the environmental sector, have led villagers to see themselves as speculators with an unforeclosed future, in contrast to the rigid caste system that once held sway over their communities. In an atmosphere of development driven by environmental concerns, the possibility of capital gain is twinned with the threat of catastrophe in the public consciousness. Data collected over a year of fieldwork suggest that everyday talk in Ostfriesland is a social poetics where even the most mundane conversations may hold consequences for capital gain and wider economic and environmental stability. Here speculation is the ground of belonging in a world where fortunes, daily routines, social distinctions, and the built environment are in a state of constant flux. This case sheds light on the cultural generativity of renewable energy, with an eye to the social repercussions of eco-capitalist development in formerly preindustrial societies.
Schuster, Caroline Elizabeth, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Making Good Money: Microcredit, Commercial Financing, and Social Regulation in Paraguay's Tri-Border Area,' supervised by Dr. John Comaroff
CAROLINE ELIZABETH SCHUSTER, then a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Making Good Money: Microcredit, Commercial Financing, and Social Regulation in Paraguay's Tri-Border Area,' supervised by Dr. John Comaroff. This ethnographic dissertation research examines the challenges and possibilities of 'Living on Credit' in Ciudad del Este, a booming commercial center on Paraguay's triple-frontier with Argentina and Brazil. Paraguay's economic landscape is configured by extreme poverty and economic inequality as well as extensive economic liberalization. Microcredit-based development projects-small group-based loans collateralized through joint liability-sit at the intersection of free-market orthodoxies and social concerns for poverty and financial exclusion: twin tendencies that mark the contours of Ciudad del Este's commercial economy. The research finds that, even in a minimally regulated free trade zone, economic relationships are highly regulated in social practice through the exigencies of development aid, the logics and accountabilities of financial instruments, ideologies of gender and women's economic participation, and the economic priorities of people enmeshed in a dense web of obligations and redistributive networks. Through eighteen months of fieldwork at a Paraguayan microcredit non-government organization (2009-2010), the grantee tracked the cultural forms and theories of value that anchor the accounting practices and financial instruments of microfinance. The research highlights the fundamental dilemma of banking on social relationships while constantly managing and containing the unstable 'social unit' that threatens to exceed the narrow terms of the loan.
Gurung, Hari B., U. of Georgia, Athens, GA - To aid research on 'Environmental Perception, Cognition, Concern and Behavior: An Anthropological Inquiry into Everyday American Environmentalism,' supervised by Dr. Robert E. Rhoades
HARI B. GURUNG, while a student at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia received funding in June 2003 to aid research on 'Environmental perception, cognition, concern, and behavior: An anthropological inquiry into everyday American environmentalism,' under the supervision of Dr. Robert E. Rhoades. Anthropology has seldom studied everyday environmentalism in contemporary post-industrial societies, such as the United States. This research studied differences in environmental perception, concern, and behavior, and correlation between concern and behaviors in Clarke, Laurens, and Bibb counties in Georgia as defined by a set of sociocultural variables. The variables comprised level of activism (laypersons, activist environmentalists, and non-activist environmentalists and science/environmental professionals), ethnicity, gender, age, education, income, years lived in county, political orientation, perceived nature of nature (benign, perverse/tolerant, capricious, and ephemeral), perceived human-nature relationships (orientalism/anthropocentrism, paternalism, and communalism), social network, perceived environmental problem (presence/absence), belief in science, personal competence, and social orientation (individualistic, egalitarian). Analyses indicated level of activism and gender differences in ecosystem, environmental state, and environmental protection orientations. Consumptive, aesthetic, and ecological were the primary environmental values held by the sample. Although environmental concern and behaviors varied significantly by level of activism, the sample expressed general environmental concern. Concern expressed and behaviors reported were invariant in the layperson sample. However, correlation between concern and behaviors was weak. Public policies to enhance public environmental knowledge are important to reduce discrepancy between concern and action. Future research into discrepancy in a social dilemma and cognitive dissonance theoretical framework is suggested. Contrary to the much publicized anti-ecological Christian ethics, research participants invoked their Christian belief positively to express environmental beliefs, values, and concern. Religion has received little attention in environmental research. Future research should examine its potentiality as an institution and a medium to achieve environmental sustainability and human survivability.
MacCourt, Anna Elisabeth, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Lord of the Universe ... Among Equals: The Challenges of Kingship in Late Early Historic and Early Medieval India,' supervised by Dr. Carla Sinopoli
Preliminary abstract: This project combines textual and archaeological research to study how kings in India (200-800 C.E.) mediated between varied and competing elite institutions, including religious institutions, other royal actors, and supra-regional powers. The complicated nature of this relationship, described in a variety of literary sources, is best viewed through the land granting system. Using the Gulf of Khambat as a case study, I will examine the presence (i.e. size and relative chronology) of elite institutions on the political landscape, in order to frame the land-granting system with material practices. Because kings give permanent, tax-free land grants to a variety of institutions, including those to which they do not religiously ascribe, textual sources that describe the sacrificial relationship between kings and brahmins do not adequately explain situations in which a Shaivite king would endow a large Buddhist university or monastery. However, approaches which take modern political models as a rubric for understanding these archaeological remains unjustifiably ignore the massive Sanskrit corpus (including not only treatises on politics, but plays, poetry and epics) that debates in detail the nature of elite relationships. My research looks to this corpus to provide the theory which structured political action, rather than assuming that modern concepts, such as feudalism, legitimation or sovereignty are applicable. By combining ancient theoretical discourses on politics and cosmology with empirical research on the Gulf of Khambat, I will challenge the assumed universality of Western political categories.