Flood, David Nottoli, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Old-Time Values:Classed and Raced Cultural Practice as Activist Politics,' supervised by Dr. Ira Bashkow
DAVID N. FLOOD, then a student at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, received funding in 2012 to aid research on 'Old-Time Values: Classed and Raced Cultural Practice as Activist Politics,' supervised by Dr. Ira Bashkow. This study of music, cross-class interaction, and left activism focused on an encounter between largely middle-class, left-leaning musicians, and working-class communities around Asheville, North Carolina. The project sought to investigate issues related to 'class culture' from the standpoint of activists who explicitly seek out working-class arts, aesthetics, and community ties, as part of an explicit praxis of resistance or activism. It also sought to investigate working-class responses to the influx of musicians from 'somewhere else.' The resulting dissertation examines class as a lived reality through the lens of this encounter detailing the accommodations, differences, understandings and misunderstandings, and (mis)communication that resulted from long-term cross-class relationships. Examining musical practice as a rare space of cross-class interaction that is uniquely divorced from educational, vocational, or institutional settings, the work situates this particular encounter in terms of contemporary political economy and within a long history of white middle-class fascination with certain cultural products of the (in this instance, white) working class. This history underlies the project's examination of the reality of voluntary downward class mobility, the politics of cross-class cultural appropriation, and questions related to the theorization of class as a marker or predictor of certain kinds of differences in conceptions of personhood and social being. It also examines the idea of class culture as activist praxis, through the lens of an anti-capitalist political project.
Stone, Naomi Shira, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Human Technologies in the Iraq War,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley Messick
NAOMI S. STONE, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Human Technologies in the Iraq War,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley Messick. In a new contribution to contemporary scholarship on war, this project explores the ethical, epistemological, and affective dimensions of 'human technology'-local wartime proxies, mediators, role-players, and translators-employed by the US military as embodied repositories of Middle East knowledge to: 1) facilitate military forms of seeing; and 2) act as the faces or visible manifestations of partially masked American projects. These Iraqis are part of a broader phenomenon in contemporary war, which this study identifies as 'elsewhere-optics,' wherein seeing as well as bodily risk are outsourced: both machines (i.e. drones) and human bodies are situated and maneuvered remotely by the US military. Employed by the American Department of Defense as exemplars of their cultures, but ejected to the peripheries as traitors by their own countrymen and as potential spies by US soldiers, human technologies negotiate complex injuries and claims for recognition. Drawing on 26 months of fieldwork across the US and in Jordan, the project focuses on the wartime labor of Iraqi former interpreters and current role-players, as they theatricalize war for US soldiers in pre-deployment simulations in mock Middle Eastern villages across America. Zooming in on the haunted and uncanny spaces of the simulations, in tension with their wartime referents, the research delves into these Iraqi intermediaries' affective and imaginative worlds.
Kantor, Hayden Seth, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Embodied Virtues: Local Strategies of Agricultural Production and Food Consumption in Bihar, India,' supervised by Dr. Stacey Langwick
HAYDEN S. KANTOR, then a graduate student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, received funding in October 2012 to aid research on 'Embodied Virtues: Local Strategies of Agricultural Production and Food Consumption in Bihar, India,' supervised by Dr. Stacey Langwick. With increases in both food prices and crop yields, small-scale farmers in Bihar, India now experience the paradox of struggling to adequately provide for their families even as they produce more food. Green Revolution agricultural practices have boosted productivity, but this increased engagement with the wider food economy means that villagers are also more susceptible to the market fluctuations. Given these economic circumstances, what types of farming and eating practices do Bihari villagers deploy, and how have these practices changed over time? Further, how do villagers construct and enact notions of ethical eating at this time of heightened economic anxiety, and how do these ethical projects vary according to gender, age, class, and caste? This study examines these questions through participant-observation fieldwork in Nalanda District, Bihar, in order to address the anthropological literature on the capitalization of agriculture, food practices, and embodied ethics. This final report reflects on the findings related to some of the main research topics addressed during this four-month phase of fieldwork, including: 1) agricultural cropping strategies; 2) the dynamics of cooking and eating within the household; and 3) Chhath Puja, a major festival that sheds light on family and community feasting practices.
Atkinson, Lucy C., U. of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'What are Children's Responses to Displacement and What Effect Does This Have on the Community?' supervised by Dr. Anthony Good
LUCY C. ATKINSON, then a student at University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, received funding in February 2002 to aid research on 'What are Children's Responses to Displacement and What Effect Does This Have on the Community?' supervised by Dr. Anthony Good. This was a study about children living in an unusual setting: a refugee camp. It recognized that such a situation causes disruption to children's lives, but rather than focusing exclusively on this disruption, it emphasized the children's everyday experiences of continuity and change as interpreted through their position as social actors. The study was based on two years of fieldwork conducted in Kala refugee camp in Zambia using participatory and child-centerd research techniques. It studied the children's everyday lives in order to gain a picture of continuity and change, and in particular, how these were experienced by the children. Going to school, working, and playing remained central to children's lives but these were experienced differently in the camp. By locating children as agents within their social context, this study considered the wider impact of the camp setting on children's experience of growing up. The children's preoccupations reflected those of the social group but included a unique child perspective on these issues. Dependency on NGO provision of food was a key defining characteristic of their refugee experience. The impact of this reached beyond provision of nutrition due to the importance of food in economic and social transactions, as a means of defining social relations and its symbolic role in everyday conversation. These combined to provide a forum for the negotiation of power relations between refugees and with the NGOs. The study concluded that changes to lifestyle affected the way that children grew up and therefore had an impact on their ideas of identity and what was acceptable or desirable behaviour. Adults, who aim to 'socialize' children into appropriate behaviour, affected this, but ultimately the children were active in authoring their own experiences, drawing influences from every aspect of their environment.
Nayar, Anita, U. of Sussex, Brighton, UK - To aid research on 'The Social and Ecological Consequences of the Commercialization of Ayurveda, India's Foremost Indigenous Plant-Based Medicine,' supervised by Dr. James R. Fairhead
ANITA NAYAR, then a student at the University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on 'The Social and Ecological Consequences of the Commercialization of Ayurveda, India's Foremost Indigenous Plant-Based Medicine,' supervised by Dr. James R. Fairhead. This research explored the subject as a process shaped by the momentum of growing consumer demand from within India and emerging markets in North America, the Gulf States, and Europe. Emphasis was given to the implications of these changing consumption patterns and related production process for the herb-gathering communities and the natural resource base upon which this transnational market economy depends. Specifically what is the impact of these processes on the social structure and political economy of herb-gathering communities? What are the implications for their access, control, and conservation of forest resources and related knowledge systems? How has it affected people's changing conceptualization of medicinal plants and their relation to them? These questions framed an anthropological study in several herb-gathering communities, the majority of which were adivasi (indigenous peoples), residing in or near the forest. The researcher accompanied adivasis during their forest work, walking from four to ten kilometers a day trekking through thorny forest, climbing hillsides, searching and digging for medicinal plants, helping them collect and sell their goods. The trade routes of several 'middlemen' traders were also studied, which involved travelling with the traded goods, following transactions at storage and transport depots, and tracing the various buyers involved. After 16 months of fieldwork the researcher emerged with an understanding of the political economy of medicinal plants, particularly how structural and systemic inequalities around the labor and knowledge of medicinal plant collectors have evolved and are being reproduced by state and private forces.
Doughan, Sultan, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Genealogies of Belonging: Citizenship and Religious Difference in Contemporary Germany,' supervised by Dr. Saba Mahmood
Preliminary abstract: During the last decade the German state has invested in various educational programs on the Holocaust that target Muslim Germans of migrant background in order to facilitate their integration as citizens. This project studies state-funded NGOs in Germany that provide Holocaust education including anti-Semitism prevention to align Muslims closer with the political culture of the state and liberal citizenship. It assesses the extent to which Muslims' stances towards German history coincide with and differ from those prescribed by the educational programs, and how this causes a problem for becoming a fully integrated cultural German citizen. By focusing on how Muslim participants claim German history through the frame of the Holocaust this project gauges how Muslims in Germany today relate to their new nation's past and what modes of relating these programs make possible or foreclose. The research will demonstrate to what extend discourses on Muslim integration in Germany intersect with the notion of Bildung and how this plays out in Holocaust education. Germany's self-perception as liberal and secular is entangled with Holocaust education. Further, contemporary forms of citizenship and national belonging in Germany intersect with Germany's genocidal history, which has not been fully accounted for in the anthropological literature. My project will provide new insights on how the memory of the Holocaust and the dis course on integration frames the subject-positions particularly of young Muslim citizens of migrant background.
Sesma, Elena M., U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'The Political Work of Memory in Collaborative Caribbean Archaeology,' supervised by Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste
Preliminary abstract: This research examines the collective memory of a 19th century plantation landscape in the Bahamas, and the ways in which the local and non-local descendant community makes sense of their relationship to the site. In 1871, the last owner of the Millars Plantation on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera left the land to the descendants of her former slaves and servants. This was no ordinary occurrence, and the descendant community has honored their claim to the land for the past 150 years, until a development company claimed a portion of the acreage five years ago. Despite court battles, the community's claims have been denied on account of reliance on oral testimony and accusations that the land has not been used or lived on in the intervening century. Using a collaborative approach, this research will pair oral histories, ethnography and archaeological survey to study the use patterns of the Millars landscape and to examine the ways in which the community has transmitted a shared identity and collective memory, and reshaped the meaning of the Plantation and its surrounding settlements as Home. This case study also serves as a link between issues faced throughout the African Diaspora, including site erasure, the production of history, and the political power of economic development over the rights of marginalized communities.
Howes-Mischel, Rebecca Ella, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Gestating Subjects: Gender, Citizenship, and Personhood in Discursive Prenatal Practices in Oaxaca and Los Angeles,' supervised by Dr. Rayna Rapp
REBECCA E. HOWES-MISCHEL, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received an award in May 2007 to aid research on 'Gestating Subjects: Gender, Citizenship, and Personhood in Discursive Prenatal Practices in Oaxaca and Los Angeles,' supervised by Dr. Rayna Rapp. Outlining the connections between rural Oaxaca and urban, southern California with research on a indigenous community that is simultaneously and intensely local and transnational, this dissertation analyzes the intimate and public domains of knowledge mobilized in the production of reproductive selves. Drawing together these micro and macro-level lenses, it offers a framework for analyzing the biomedical models that circulate within clinical, community, and transnational narratives-illustrating how the social valences of medical practice are integrated into the production of social actors across multiple contexts as they in turn are shaped by national and international discourses. Moving between hospital and community-based ethnography, this dissertation analyzes: 1) how subjects are produced through biomedical encounters (including subsequent talk generated about these encounters); 2) how populations (as ideational categories) are formed in the nexus of national health policies and women's bodily practices; and 3) how research might approach the practices of modern self-making across a transborder indigenous community. It looks at the 'spaces in-between,' where women create syncretic notions of personhood and incorporate 'traditional' practices into neoliberal health models. This project uses reproduction as a lens into larger projects of subjectification via complicated and value-laden frameworks for 'good' mothering at the individual, community and transnational level.
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.
Cramblit, Miggie Mackenzie, Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'Wild Relations: Producing Socionatural Value in the Scottish Highlands,' supervised by Dr. Charles D. Piot
Preliminary abstract: This research explores how land use and resource management generate novel forms of sociality and value in the western Highlands of Scotland, a sparsely populated and largely treeless area officially classified as 'wild land.' Despite the term's suggestion of an empty landscape, 'wild' land is actually inhabited and actively stewarded, often by isolated rural communities whose livelihood depends on tourism revenue. What does it mean to live amidst and to labor with wild land? How is wild land made valuable, and what forms of relationality does it engender? Critical studies of nature have largely understood the wild as an ideological construction and have primarily theorized parks and wilderness areas in terms of capitalist or neoliberal economic value. Departing from these trends, this research seeks to engage wildness as a material attribute of landscape and to address the representations, practices, and social relations through which so-called 'wild' land is made valuable. Through ethnographic fieldwork focused on the remote Knoydart peninsula, a landscape dubbed 'Britain's last great wilderness,' this research will examine how human actors become sensitive to nonhuman presences through labor with 'wild' land, and will track the forms of value that flow from this 'socionatural labor.' Combining anthropological theories of commoditization and value production with an emerging posthumanist literature, this research will suggest novel ways to study value as the outcome of human-nonhuman relationality or 'socionatural labor,' a perspective that can reveal new ethical possibilities for relating through difference in a more-than-human world.