Obadia, Julienne Jeanne, New School for Social Research, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Shared Intimacy: Opening the Door of the American Bedroom,' supervised by Dr. Miriam Ticktin
JULIENNE J. OBADIA, then a student at New School for Social Research, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Shared Intimacy: Opening the Door of the American Bedroom,' supervised by Dr. Miriam Ticktin. This research explores how American notions of self, relationship, and family relate to the contemporary conceptualization and practice of polyamory, or honest non-monogamy. Findings point to three significant themes. First, frustrated by the monogamous mandate to have all needs and desires met by one person, polyamorous people find that intimacy with multiple people can satisfy a much wider range of needs and desires. Commonly, this entails an emphasis on self-analysis, self-knowledge, and self-compartmentalization based on the principle that relationships work best and are most satisfying when each partner knows him/herself and what he/she wants from each relationship. Second, to organize poly life and minimize surprises, contracts and agreements often designate in advance what kinds of relationships and intimacies are acceptable. Understood as a tool for both self-knowledge and relationship transparency, contracts are always transforming, encouraging while regulating modes of self-elaboration. Last, current polyamorous practice utilizes a concept of 'sexual orientation' associated primarily with homosexuality: a set of desires that one is born with and is unaffected by upbringing, choice, or culture. Consonant with a theory of personhood based on discovering and elaborating a core self, this orientation is described as having always existed as an essential part of oneself.
Smith, Lindsay A., Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Subversive Genes: DNA Identification and Human Rights in Argentina,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman
LINDSAY A. SMITH, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Subversive Genes: DNA Identification and Human Rights in Argentina,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman. This project examined DNA identification technologies and their relationship to political, social and familial reconstitution in post-dictatorship Argentina. The fieldwork focused on two groups: one organized around the recovery of their kidnapped grandchildren and the other organized around the identification of the bodies of the 30,000 disappeared. Through participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and archival research comparing these seemingly similar movements, which nonetheless constitute separate social movements and use different technological approaches, the grantee explored the coproduction of scientific and political orders in the midst of a seemingly endless process of 'transitional' justice. Initial findings document the flexible social meanings of DNA technologies, especially how the meanings of genetic tests are constructed and reconfigured as they travel between multiple sites of discourse and practice, connecting scientists in the U.S. and Argentina, radicalized mothers in Latin America, international human rights NGOs, kidnapped children, and even the other-worldly disappeared. This research suggests that forensic DNA identification technologies have emerged as core sites of identity formation both for individuals and families affected by the terror of the dictatorship but also for the Argentine nation-state as it tries to reckon with the legacies of repression.
Wells, Hallie Elizabeth, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Moving Words: Malagasy Slam Poetry at the Intersection of Performance, Politics, and Transnational Circulation,' supervised by Dr. Charles Briggs
Preliminary abstract: My research analyzes how understandings of democracy are shaped by the transnational circulation of slam poetry--a contemporary urban oral poetry competition that merges poetry reading with rap battle--as it contends with centuries-old genres of public discourse. In this project I track how an urban poetry contest born in a largely African-American neighborhood in Chicago came to take root on an island in the Indian Ocean where verbal art is anything but new. Slam has flourished in countries around the world, but Madagascar is unique in its rich and diverse tradition of verbal art genres that are still prevalent in everyday life, such as oratory (kabary) and proverbs (ohabolana), both of which were foundational sites for linguistic anthropological understandings of rhetoric, poetics, and politics. This project will show how slam poets and other verbal artists--including politicians--contest and reform notions of the private versus the public sphere, evaluations of authority and competence (who has the right and the ability to speak?), and norms of indirectness and deference in social interaction. To do so I will focus on the linguistic and embodied practices of slam poets and their audiences, the circulation of these performances in new social media, and the interaction between slam and other spheres of verbal performance. By leveraging the problematics that arise in social anthropological discussions of global circulation, in combination with fine-grained linguistic analysis of verbal art performances and everyday speech, my research will provide critical insight into how language ideologies and bodily dispositions form, contend with opposing dispositions and ideologies, and ultimately impact the political and economic livelihoods of communities.
Meari, Lena Mhammad, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Interrogating 'Painful' Encounters: The Interrogation-Encounter between Palestinian Political Activists and the Shabak,' supervised by Dr. Suad Joseph
LENA M. MEARI, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, received a grant in 2008 to aid research on 'Interrogating 'Painful' Encounters: The Interrogation-Encounter between Palestinian Political Activists and the Shabak,' supervised by Dr. Suad Joseph. Ethnographic information was collected from two key locations: Jerusalem and Ramallah. From Jerusalem, the data collected include Israeli governmental reports, court decisions, human rights organizations' reports, newspaper articles, Shabak employees' memoires, and court cases. In addition participant observation within an Israeli human rights organization and in-depth interviews were conducted. The interviewees included human rights activists, lawyers, and journalists. These ethnographic information will be employed in order to explore Israeli conceptions of torture, pain, and ethics related to the interrogation-encounter, how this encounter had affected - and been affected by -- court decisions and governmental reports, and International and local human rights reports. In addition, the ethnographic information will be employed in order to investigate the relation between torture, pain, and liberal ethics. In Ramallah, in-depth interviews were conducted with Palestinian leaders and activists from five Palestinian political parties who experienced interrogation. Other research activities included participant observation within a Palestinian human rights organization and a Palestinian psychological organization, as well as participant observation and interviews with family members and friends of Palestinian prisoners. This ethnographic information will be employed in analyzing the various Palestinian conceptions of torture and pain and the practices exerted by them, in addition to the multiple Palestinian discourses that constitute the Palestinian activist.
Moran-Taylor, Michelle, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Transnationalism and its Consequences in the Homeland: Return Migration in a Maya and Ladino Sending Community,' supervised by Dr. Robert R. Alvarez Jr.
MICHELLE MORAN-TAYLOR, while a student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, was awarded a grant in February 2001 to aid research on 'Transnationalism and Its Consequences in the Homeland: Return Migration in a Maya and Ladino Sending Community,' supervised by Dr. Robert R. Alvarez, Jr. This cross-cultural and cross-regional study questions how transnational migration, particularly return migration, affects ethnicity, class, and gender in culturally and regionally distinct sending communities. Research was conducted in a Ladino town in eastern Guatemala and in a predominantly Maya K'iche' community in the western highlands during 2000-2001. Results demonstrate that migration has become a way of life for many Guatemalans and the presence of transnational migration impacts are quite noticeable. Moreover, remittances and return migrants transform some aspects of gender and ethnicity. Initial findings illuminate, for instance, that although international migration has the potential to alter gender relations, any migration-related changes are short-lived (e.g., men return to dominant roles). While transnational migration is paramount in the lives of many Guatemalans it is not the only agent for change. Other factors operating at the local, regional, national, and global levels have also contributed in both altering and affirming gender and ethnicity in this social terrain.
Moran-Taylor, Michelle J. 2008. Guatemala’s Ladino and Maya Migra Landscapes: The Tangible and Intagible Outcomes of Migration. Human Organization 67(2):111-124
Moran-Taylor, Michelle J. 2008. When Mothers and Fathers Migrate North: Caretakers, children, and Child Rearing in Guatemala. Latin American Perspectives 35(4):79-95
Sherpa, Pasang Yangjee, Washington State U., Pullman, WA - To aid research on 'Sherpa Perceptions of Climate Change: Local Understandings of a Global Problem,' supervised by Dr.. John Bodley
PASANG YANGJEE SHERPA, then a student at Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, received a grant in April 2011, to aid research on 'Sherpa Perceptions of Climate Change: Local Understanding of a Global Problem,' supervised by Dr. John Bodley. This research was designed to examine how Sherpa perceptions of climate change differ between on-route and off-route villages, as to what causes these differences and how the differences might affect the effectiveness of risk management policies and practices. This research found that Pharak Sherpas are knowledgeable and adapting to the changing climate, while also vulnerable to the short-term and long-term effects of climate change. The data collected from the field show that in addition to the on-route/ off-route residence, a Pharak Sherpa's age, gender and employment situation also play a role in how he/she perceives climate change. This research therefore defines socio-economically created cultural units as consisting of Pharak Sherpas from same residence, age group, gender, and employment, who are likely to interact with each other more than with someone from outside their own unit. The vulnerability to the inevitable effects of climate change in Pharak depends on the cultural unit an individual and his/her family belongs to. Further analysis of policies suggest that collaborating with the local people and accommodating to the existing cultural units by the institutions, local and foreign, as they design, develop, and implement climate change risk management programs can increase their effectiveness.
Sherpa, Pasang Yangjee. 2014. Climate Change, Perceptions, and Social Heterogeneity in Pharak, Mount Everest Region of Nepal. Human Organization, 73(2):153-161.
Muia, Mulu, U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL - To aid research on 'Changes in Lithic Technology and Origin of Modern Human Behavior in Ntuka, Southwest Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Stanley H. Ambrose
MULU MUIA, then a student at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, was awarded funding in February 2005 to aid research on 'Changes in Lithic Technology and Origin of Modern Human Behavior in Ntuka, Southwest Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Stanley H. Ambrose. The grant was used: 1) to expand excavations at two sites (GvJh11 and GvJh12) that had been excavated extensively previously, but whose sample size was small; and 2) to carry out new excavations at three other sites (GvJh21, GvJh78 and GvJh81) that had been test excavated. Artifacts recovered were made mostly of obsidian, lava and cherts. Faunal remains were limited mostly to teeth. Analysis of the artifacts sought to understand the process of technological change from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) to the Later Stone Age (LSA). The first step in the analysis focused on recording the various tool classes (the typology) and the raw materials so that the diversity of both in the MSA and LSA can be quantified. To understand raw material procurement strategies, all pieces were examined for cortex. Metric dimensions (length, width, and thickness) for all finished tools were recorded using electronic calipers. Flakes were examined for platform preparation by recording the presence or absence of facets. Where facets were present, they were counted. Platform width, thickness, and angle were recorded to identify flaking techniques.
Otu, Edwin Kwame, Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid research on 'Reluctantly Queer: Sassoi, and the Shifting Paradigms of Masculinity and Sexual Citizenship in Postcolonial Ghana,' supervised by Dr. Susan Snow Wadley
Preliminary abstract: My dissertation research will explore the ongoing transformations in understandings about masculinity and sexual citizenship in postcolonial Ghana. In the early decades of the 21st century, Ghana has witnessed several shifts in understandings about gender and sexuality, such as the reduction of effeminacy to homosexuality. These transformations, wrought by the increasing visibility of same-sex politics in postcolonial Africa and the increasing pseudo-homophobia of the nation-state, inform the background of the lives of self-identified effeminate men, known in local parlance as sassoi. Not a unified whole, sassoi experiences and sensibilities are shaped by their multiple orientations. Sassoi heterogeneity is therefore contingent on their ethnicity, class, educational level, and the degree to which they embrace particular heteronormative ideas and practices, such as marriage, fatherhood, and socially acceptable markers of being. Central to this thesis is the idea of, and perhaps the practice of reluctance. How might sassoi be reluctantly queer subjects, and what aspects of their lives might shape their refusal of the reducibility of effeminacy to homosexuality? Combining life narratives, observant participation, discourse analysis, and archival research, I will explore how sassoi remake their identities as effeminate subjects in this era of global LGBTQ politics and growing political homophobia in Ghana.
Samli, Sherife Ayla, Rice U., Houston, TX - To aid research on 'Containing the Future: The Hope Chest in Contemporary Urban Turkey,' supervised by Dr. James D. Faubion
AYLA SAMLI, then a student at Rice University, Houston, Texas, received funding in November 2007 to aid research on 'Containing the Future: The Hope Chest in Contemporary Urban Turkey,' supervised by Dr. James D. Faubion. This research investigated the hope chest, or çeyiz, as an indicator of changes in women's status in Istanbul, Turkey. A time-honored tradition central to wedding preparations, the hope chest has undergone extreme changes recently, reflecting larger changes in family structure, women's education, and love relationships. This research explored the changing çeyiz as a commodity, a family keepsake, a national symbol, and as a transitional object accompanying the bride into her new home. To understand the çeyiz and its manifold implications, research was undertaken at merchant centers, handiwork courses, wedding-related stores, and in family homes. Intergenerational interviews among families and interviews with brides and grooms explored the hope chest as a negotiated object -- something created and accumulated through bargaining. Implicit to the hope chest was a discussion how young women and their mothers had different expectations regarding women's roles. The data suggests that education, above all other factors, critically shapes women's attitudes toward their hope chests, their expected gender roles in marriage, and their negotiating power in both household purchases and wedding arrangements.
Pant, Ketaki, Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'Homes of Capital: Merchants and Mobility in the Indian Ocean,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho
Preliminary abstract: This dissertation project is concerned with the long history of Gujarati merchant mobility in the Indian Ocean. While scholars of globalization have considered the movement of global capital as a new phenomenon, this project studies the itinerant merchant--historically engaged in the long-distance oriented textile trade--as an early iteration of the global capitalist. Merchant homes, which also function as warehouses, workshops and offices, are central to these networks, and historically connected the textile trade from its point of origin in the interior to the shores of the Indian Ocean. These homes, and descendents of merchant families within them, continue to exist today and allow me to ethnographically study how a history of merchant mobility, coordinated through the home, continues to persist in contemporary society. In studying Gujarati merchant networks from its interiors, this project analyzes how kinship and religious networks, routed through the home, are central to capital mobility. I am concerned therefore with how a seemingly stationary space--the home--helps us to understand the flow of capital across an oceanic space. In analyzing this dynamic of enclosed mobility this project seeks to demonstrate that unlike the contemporary multinational corporation, which though independent of, operates under the umbrella of imperial states and their mobile armies, Gujarati merchants, through a long history, have protected capital without the use of force and the help of a strong state.
Pant, Ketaki. 2014. Gujarat's 'Rangoon Wallas.' Himal Southasian. Published online.