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
Limerick, Nicholas, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Contested Language Ideologies and the Mediation of Indigenous Schooling in Ecuador,' supervised by Dr. Asif Agha
NICHOLAS LIMERICK, then a student at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received a grant in October 2011 to aid research on 'Contested Language Ideologies and the Mediation of Indigenous Schooling in Ecuador,' supervised by Dr. Asif Agha. This dissertation is based on a multi-sited ethnographic study of language use with indigenous educational leaders in Quito, Ecuador. More specifically, the grantee investigates identity politics in Ecuador and the uses of indigenous languages in intercultural, bilingual Quichua-Spanish education. The project examines how leaders speak in and about Quichua for the coordination of intercultural bilingual education, how such ideologies emerge vis-à-vis state policies, and how such policies are reformulated across domains, especially where teachers and students may bring contrastive views to language contact and education.
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.