Li, Jin, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Reassembling Religion: Tibetan Buddhism in Post-Communist China,' supervised by Dr. Erik Mueggler
Preliminary abstract: Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, Tibetan and Chinese Buddhists have formed a new network centered in a Nyingma monastery in eastern Tibet, called Larung. This encounter invites us to examine the formation and transformation of religious subjectivity: Why have Tibetan monks included Han Chinese in their revival of Buddhism? Why have so many urban Chinese abandoned the secularist worldview cultivated by the state to convert to Tibetan Buddhism? I address the questions by looking into a tradition in the Nyingma sect, known as gter, or ¡°excavation of hidden treasures.¡± In 1986, the founder of Larung, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, discovered as a ¡°hidden treasure¡± an old gazetteer about Mount Wutai, a Chinese Buddhist mountain sacred to both Tibetans and Chinese. In his eyes, this object was a revelation that Padmasambhava, the Indian master who introduced tantric Buddhism to Tibet, buried treasures to allow Tibetan monks to reconstruct ties with the Chinese. This episode shows how treasure hunting articulates the regimes of landscape, materiality, human wayfaring and religious interpretation. It reveals the two theoretical explorations of my research: First, the research takes issue with the anthropological convention that looks at the religious domain with a panoptic view, and sees the religious domain that has been revived by treasure hunting as an assembly. This assembly gradually comes into being, through encounters between people and things. Second, the research asks how religious subjects are created through their wayfaring encounters with the assembly. This will help engage into Joel Robbins¡¯s (2007) provocative question¡ªHow can anthropology anchored in ¡°continuity thinking¡± explain radical changes in human subjectivity, such as conversion?
Blaisdell-Sloan, Kira, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'An Agent-Centered Approach to Contact and Colonialism in Northeastern Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Rosemary A. Joyce
KIRA BLAISDELL-SLOAN, while a student at the University of California in Berkeley, California, received an award in December 2002 to aid research on contact and colonialism in northeastern Honduras, under the supervision of Dr. Rosemary A. Joyce. Blaisdell-Sloan carried out excavations at the Postclassic to colonial period site of Rancho Ires in northern Honduras. Her goal was to record data with which to explore the changing nature of contact to colonial period life for the indigenous people of the Ulua Valley. Specifically, the project was designed to obtain data with which to examine the varied and changing strategies of cultural retention and identity creation employed by individuals and groups living at Rancho Ires as their traditional social and economic networks were disrupted and new ones formed. Blaisdell-Sloan addressed these topics from an agent-centered perspective, which placed a critical focus on the strategic choices that people (as individuals and groups) made as they interacted with colonial powers beyond their control. To gather the data needed to explore these issues, excavations were conducted in four households. Team members uncovered a variety of domestic deposits, which enabled both diachronic comparisons within a given household and comparisons between households at a single moment and over time. The data collected during this field season were particularly well suited for an analysis of architecture, diet, trade goods, and locally produced goods. In combination with data obtained from Rancho Ires in 1983 and 2001, analysis of the materials excavated there in 2003 was to serve as the basis of Blaisdell-Sloan's dissertation, which focused on an understanding of the diverse and changing nature of indigenous life in the face of increasing Spanish incursions.
Prentice, Michael Morgan, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Restructuring Corporations From Below: The Re-emergence of Hierarchy among South Korea's Conglomerates,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Hull
Preliminary abstract: In the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis in Korea, IMF restructuring led to major economic and social overhauls across Korean society, including reforms to corporate governance among the country's infamous conglomerates. Subsequent restructuring was meant to root out the cronyistic and personalistic practices of the past and implement new models of transparency, accountability and efficiency suitable for global competition. This project explores how Korean office cultures and work practices have changed in the years since, especially as post-IMF reforms have become institutionalized. I look at this phenomenon through the particular lens of changes in Korea's military-like hierarchy system, long a symbol of corporate paternalism. Numerous conglomerates have sought to transform hierarchical divisions along egalitarian lines, from 'flat' organizational structures to equalized terms of address. My project takes an interactional approach to understand why and how office workers might resist efforts to make workplaces more equal. In fourteen months of Wenner-Gren-funded fieldwork in Seoul, South Korea, I will explore the plethora of institutional policies across South Korea's sixty conglomerates and observe how they are taken up in practice, especially across new modes of digital communication. I hypothesize that as 'flat' relations become implemented, Korean office workers may seek asymmetrical relations with other co-workers to cultivate a social insurance in a turbulent labor market. This project will elucidate broader anthropological concerns for social mobility, capitalist organization and the language of hierarchy.
Friederic, Karin Ulla, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Violent Frontiers: Women’s Rights, Intimate Partner Violence, and the State in Ecuador,' supervised by Dr. Linda Buckley Green
KARIN FRIEDERIC, then a student at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a grant in December 2007 to aid research on 'Violent Frontiers: Women's Rights, Intimate Partner Violence, and the State in Ecuador,' supervised by Dr. Linda Green. This dissertation utilizes the lens of historical anthropology to investigate the articulation of political, economic, and social processes that underpin gender norms and produce a normalized 'culture of gendered violence' in a rural frontier region of northwestern Ecuador called El Páramo. In Phase I, ethnographic fieldwork explored how increasing awareness of women's rights affected local women's perceptions and experiences of (as well as their responses to) intimate partner violence. Phase II incorporated institution-based interviews, oral history, and archival research to enable an historically specific examination of the political and economic context from which El Páramo colonists originated. In this case, historical perspective and methodologies help make sense of regnant gender norms and their role in the normalization of violence. This dissertation demonstrates how domestic violence is produced both interpersonally, nationally, and internationally, thus challenging static conceptions of culture that underlie most analyses of violence. The analysis employs a longitudinal perspective not only to understand how experiences and manifestations of family violence change over time (in response to newly circulating discourses of 'rights'), but also to undercover the relationship between family violence and historically particular social, economic and political conditions.
Friederic, Karin. 2014. Violence against Women in Rural Ecuador. Latin American Perspectives 41(1):19-38.
Veilleux, Carrie Cecilia, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Effects of Nocturnal Light Environment on the Evolution of Nocturnal Primate Color Vision,' supervised by Dr. Edward Christopher Kirk
CARRIE C. VEILLEUX, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, received a grant in April 2009 to aid research on 'Effects of Nocturnal Light Environment on the Evolution of Nocturnal Primate Color Vision,' supervised by Dr. Edward Christopher Kirk. Habitat transition is commonly linked to the evolution of novel hominin locomotor or dietary anatomy. Yet, while humans differ from apes in color vision features, little work has explored how habitat transition influenced human visual evolution. Using nocturnal lemurs as a model, this project combined molecular analyses of selection pressure acting on the S-opsin gene (coding for blue-sensitive retinal cones) with field measurements of nocturnal ambient light (n=547 measurements) available across the lunar cycle in lemur habitats (dry forest Kirindy Mitea, rainforest Ranomafana). The goals were to test whether: 1) selection for color vision in lemurs varies by habitat type; and 2) habitat types vary in the color and intensity of nocturnal light. Preliminary analyses of the S-opsin gene in 112 nocturnal lemurs suggest selection on the gene varies by habitat type, microhabitat, and diet. While comparisons of nocturnal light environments are also preliminary, light color and intensity appear to vary by lunar phase and habitat type, with dry forests exhibiting much brighter light environments. Together, these data suggest that habitat transitions can impact primate color vision evolution. These results provide a framework for investigating the role of habitat transition and dietary shift on the evolution of hominin visual systems.
Kisin, Eugenia Carol, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Indigenous Sovereignties, Non-secular Modernities: The Market for Northwest Coast First Nations Art,' supervised by Dr. Fred R. Myers
EUGENIA C. KISIN, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Indigenous Sovereignties, Non-Secular Modernities: The Market for Northwest Coast First Nations Art,' supervised by Dr. Fred R. Myers. Indigenous social movements have had long histories in settler states. But in recent decades, a new cultural politics has emerged that hinges on expressive culture -- art, music, and performance -- to assert sovereignty and contemporaneity. Within these movements, indigenous peoples have complex affiliations in relation to the commodity market, including community, pan-indigenous, religious, and professional identities. This project documents how contemporary indigenous cultural politics emerge around art, focusing on how the state, the art market, and religiosities are entangled with projects of indigenous self-determination in Vancouver, Canada. Exploring the ways in which First Nations artists take up the fluid categories of contemporary art while challenging modernist and secularist models of art's efficacies, this research shows how participants in this regional art world imagine new ways for aesthetics and politics to comingle in Indigenous practice, often amidst extractive state regimes. Through participant observation, life histories, social network analyses, and archival work in the many spaces of the art world, this research explores how the politics, discourses, and processes of contemporary First Nations art production have led to a $100 million market for Northwest Coast art, and how, on this market, cultural and monetary values are powerfully interlinked.
Arps, Shahna L., Ohio State U., Columbus, OH - To aid research on 'Maternal Mortality and Morbidity among the Miskito of Eastern Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Douglas E. Crews
SHAHNA L. ARPS, then a student at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, was awarded a grant in October 2004 to aid research on 'Maternal Mortality and Morbidity among the Miskito of Eastern Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Douglas E. Crews. Fieldwork was conducted in Honduras (November 2004 - November 2005) to explore maternal health issues in Miskito communities along the Ibans lagoon in the department of Gracias a Dios. Focus groups, structured interviews, and health assessments provided data regarding the cultural, biological, behavioral, and socioeconomic factors that influence maternal morbidity and mortality. To investigate health among living women, reproductive histories and information on current health, household composition, and socioeconomic status were collected during initial interviews with 200 women. Follow- up interviews were conducted to investigate dietary intake, workload/activity, social support, decision-making (autonomy), episodes of illness, and health-seeking behavior. Verbal autopsies were also collected from family members to analyze causes and circumstances of maternal deaths in the region. Women reported 55 maternal deaths. Hemorrhage, usually due to prolonged labor or retained placenta, was the leading cause of death. Poverty, women's lack of autonomy, and inadequate access to health care interact in complex ways to produce compromised health and maternal mortality in Miskito communities. This research demonstrates the need for new maternal health initiatives in the region. It also contributes to an understanding of human adaptability and limits to adaptability in high-risk environments.
Padwe, Jonathan, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Genocide, Development and Belonging in Cambodia: The Phnong of the Northeast Hills,' supervised by Dr. Michael R. Dove
JOHNATHAN PADWE, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded funding in May 2004 to aid research on 'Genocide, Development and Belonging in Cambodia: The Phnong of the Northeast Hills,' supervised by Dr. Michael R. Dove. The subject of this research is the use of memories of genocide within the political debates surrounding 'development' among highland minorities in northeast Cambodia. Wenner-Gren funding supported the first year of a projected two and a half years of fieldwork. Research for this initial period consisted of five months of research in Phnom Penh among policy makers and staff of NGO and government agencies working on land titling and agricultural development, and seven months in Mondulkiri Province, both in the provincial capital and in Dak Dam village. Initial work in Phnom Penh resulted in the establishment of a network of contacts and the acquisition of reports and documents. Key accomplishments included significant improvement of language ability (in Khmer), the collection of extensive interview data regarding agriculture and land titling, and a refinement of the research questions. As a result of reviewer comments and feedback from this network, the initial focus on hunting has been deemphasized in the research program. Fieldwork in Mondulkiri province included developing contacts within the development community based in the provincial capital, initial visits to Dak Dam village, and eventually an extended period of fieldwork in Dak Dam. Data collected included participant observation and interview data about ongoing development projects, villagers' encounters with development, agricultural practices, such as the establishment of swidden fields, and cultural and religious activities, such as calendric agricultural ceremonies. During this period the Cambodian government granted a large land concession to a Malaysian pine-plantation enterprise, and villagers in affected areas (including Dak Dam) began protests.
Dygert, Holly A., Michigan State U., East Lansing, MI - To aid research on 'Negotiating the Indigenous Family in Mexico: Woman, Community, Region and Nation,' supervised by Dr. Laurie K. Medina
HOLLY A. DYGERT, then a student at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, was awarded a grant in May 2003 to aid research on 'Negotiating the Indigenous Family in Mexico: Woman, Community, Region and Nation,' supervised by Dr. Laurie K. Medina. Seventeen months of ethnographic research were conducted for this dissertation research project, with support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Fulbright International Institute of Education/Gracia Robles Program. The research examined ideas about indigenous culture and family among three groups in Mexico: government employees working to implement the National Opportunities Program; Mixtec activists working to revitalize their language and culture; and men and women in the small southern Mixtec village of San Mateo Peñasco. By examining ideas about indigenous culture and family among the three groups, the research aims to better understand how people create, rework, and contest linkages between culture and family in contemporary development practice. The researcher collected and reviewed Opportunities Program literature; conducted interviews with Program officials at national, state, regional and village levels; and participated in and observed Program activities and events at the regional and village levels. Similarly, she collected Mixtec cultural revitalization advocates' written literature; conducted interviews with leading activists; and observed events aimed at revitalizing the Mixtec language and culture. Then, the researcher conducted a year of ethnographic fieldwork in the Mixtec village of San Mateo Peñasco, examining how villagers perceive these ideas about Mixtec culture and families. Data collection methods in the village included: participant observation; a village census; semi-structured interviews with key individuals in the village (including the municipal President, the Catholic priest, and the local midwife); and semi-structured interviews with a stratified sample of adult villagers.
Swank, Heidi F., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Textbooks and Grocery Lists: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy in the Everyday of Dharamsala, India,' supervised by Dr. Robert Launay
HEIDI F. SWANK, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, was awarded a grant in January 2001 to aid research on 'Textbooks and Grocery Lists: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy in the Everyday of Dharamsala, India,' supervised by Dr. Robert Launay. Through an analysis of seemingly inconsequential writings, such as text messages and grocery lists, this study examined how Tibetan refugee youth in Dharamsala, India utilize written language to negotiate boundaries and inclusion across and within three communities of practice that are based primarily on nativity. This study contributes to work that challenges theories of social reproduction through education and the primacy of spoken language, respectively, by demonstrating that 1) despite a change to Tibetan-medium education youth chose to write primarily in English in everyday situations and 2) although results of a sociolinguistic survey of 214 Dharamsala resident demonstrate uniform use of spoken Tibetan at home, the majority of Tibetan youth use English in everyday writing. Not only does this study support work that questions the influence of the educational system on language, but it extends this work by examining specifically written language, in particular, multilingual writing practices that diverge significantly from spoken language practices across this community.