Navarro, Tamisha D., Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on ''Culture' vs. 'Progress': Economic Development in the United States Virgin Islands,' supervised by Dr. Charles Piot
TAMISHA D. NAVARRO, then a student at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on ''Culture' vs. 'Progress': Economic Development in the United States Virgin Islands,' supervised by Dr. Charles Piot. In the fall of 2008, the financial sector of the US economy was in trouble. As a result of the failure of several major investment banks, a possible rescue package of Wall Street by the federal government became a topic of much discussion. In the U.S. Virgin Islands -- and particularly on the island of St. Croix -- this issue had particular resonance as a result of the 1991 establishment of the Economic Development Commission (EDC), a development initiative that closely linked the economic fate of this tiny island to developments on Wall Street. The EDC focused on attracting capital investment to the USVI by offering significant tax exemptions to companies, primarily investment firms, willing to locate to these islands. Since its inception, the EDC has provoked struggles among local senators, the USVI regional legislature, the US federal government, international businessmen and their wives, and the community of St. Croix at large. The research explores the various effects of the EDC by focusing on the new divisions that have emerged within St. Croix between 'EDC people' and US Virgin Islanders. These are divisions organized along the axes of race, class, gender, and notions of belonging in ways that recall an earlier history of colonial exploitation within the Caribbean but that also articulate with the new exigencies of today's global moment.
Dattatreyan, Ethiraj Gabriel, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Central Peripheries: Migrant Youth, Popular Culture, and the Making of 'World Class' Delhi,' supervised by Dr. John L. Jackson Jr.
Preliminary abstract: India's economic liberalization has spurred a tremendous influx of migrants to India's city centers, from near and far, in search of new livelihoods (Fernandes, 2006; Searle, 2010). Delhi, for instance, has nearly tripled in population since the early 1990s due to in-migration (censusindia.gov, 2011). These migrants, like migrants around the world, strive to adapt to their new surroundings by producing themselves in ways which make them socially, economically, and politically viable (Glick-Schiller et al, 2006; Vertovec, 2011). My project examines how recent international and intranational immigrant youth -- Nepalis, Sikkimese, Assamese, and Nigerians -- who have come to Delhi to partake in its economic possibilities and, in some cases, to escape political uncertainty, are utilizing globally circulating popular cultural forms to make themselves visible in a moment when the city strives to recast its image as a world class destination for roaming capital (Roy, 2011). I focus on one super diverse (Blommaert, 2012; Vertovec, 2007) unauthorized settlement community in South Delhi to explore the citizenship making claims of immigrant youth who, to date, have been virtually invisible in academic and popular narratives of the city. Specifically, I follow 30 ethnically diverse young people from this settlement community as they engage with hip hop, a popular cultural form originating in Black American communities in the 1970s (Chang, 2005; Morgan, 2009). As hip hop's music and its practices gain popularity amongst youth in Delhi from across a wide spectrum of class and ethnic positions, I will trace how these migrant youth utilizing its styles and its globally reaching networks to fashion themselves and, perhaps, their settlement community as part of a world class urbanity in the making.
Smith, Abigail Chipps, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Mobility and Urbanism: The Place of Mobile Pastoralists in Mali's Iron Age Cities,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall
ABIGAIL C. SMITH, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Mobility and Urbanism: The Place of Mobile Pastoralists in Mali's Iron Age Cities,' supervised by Dr. Fiona B. Marshall. This project investigates the relationship between mobile pastoral groups and urban populations in the past, focusing on the site of Jenné-jeno and its surrounding landscape. The project draws on four months of extensive excavation at two archaeological sites, Tato à Sanouna and Thiel, near the modern town of Djenné in Mali's Inland Niger Delta. Multiple lines of evidence are used to identify past modes of life in these sites and at the well-known ancient city of Jenné-jeno between about 200 to 1500 CE, particularly the interrelationship between sedentary urbanism, subsistence specialization, and mobile pastoralism. As the first large-scale excavation of smaller, outlying sites in the area, this project increases our understanding of the extent and variability of local human settlement. Additionally, the project's focus on subsistence and specialization provides empirical data about the trajectories of West African pastoralism and agriculture. This information enables discussion of the role of pastoral populations in the Jenné-jeno urban system and impacts our understanding of Jenné-jeno's trade relationships and political organization. Given the unique trajectories of African food production when compared to other world areas, this project is an important contribution to our understanding of variability in global pastoral strategies and mobile-sedentary interactions.
Hillewaert, Sarah Marleen, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Language, Space, and Identity: Linguistic Practices among Youth in Lamu, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
SARAH M. HILLEWAERT, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in October 2008 to aid research on 'Language, Space, and Identity: Linguistic Practices among Youth in Lamu, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. Investigating linguistic practices among youth of Lamu Island (Kenya), this research set out to provide new understandings of the complex relation between language and agency, exploring how everyday linguistic and semiotic practices can be constitutive in redefinitions of identities. A two-year research period on Lamu Island revealed how youth actively exploit and redefine the linkage between stylistic variation and social identities, statuses, and value systems to monitor social relations in a context of rapid change. Data collection revealed a linguistic complexity on Lamu Island, inextricably tied up with the island's historical social stratification. Over six Swahili dialects spoken by different ethnic groups reflect social identities that coincide with spatial divisions on the island. As economic, political and social changes come to undermine these historical social structures, linguistic practices become crucial in monitoring social relations. While spatial divisions remain, youth actively exploit changes in mobility (i.e. movement through the town, across spatial divides) as well as linguistic and semiotic practices to defy ascribed social identities. Switching and mixing of dialects, combined with changes in occupation of social space demonstrate how youth endeavor to challenge historically established ideologies. As changes in mobility proved to play a crucial role in this challenging of social identities, the researcher was forced to investigate the impact of different notions of mobility (i.e. the actual movement through space but also use of cell phone, satellite tv) on notions of identity and language practices. Analysis also indicates that an important gender aspect needs to be included in the research's theoretical considerations, as the cultural restrictions in mobility have forced women, more so than man, to exploit linguistic practices in their attempts to redefine their position in Lamu Society.
Meharie, Anduamlak, U. of Kentucky, Lexington, KY - To aid research on 'Development and Displacement in Peri-Urban Areas of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Impacts on Youth and Households,' supervised by Dr. Peter D. Little
ANDUAMLAK MEHARIE, then a student at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky was awarded a grant in May 2005 to aid research on 'Development and Displacement in Peri-Urban Areas of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Impacts on Youth and Households,' supervised by Dr. Peter Little. The study examined the coping and adaptive strategies of displaced individuals and households in Yeka Tefo, a peri-urban farming community on the eastern part of Addis Ababa. The study examined how these strategies, on the one hand, reduce risks associated with displacement, and on the other, how these strategies affect intergenerational and other social relations within the community. More specifically, the study investigated whether the dislocation of peasants from their farms provides youth with independence from parental control over land, on-farm employment, and social obligations, so they can pursue other livelihood opportunities, such as education, wage employment, and entrepreneurship. The study further explored the impact of youth’s decisions on intra-household and intra-community relationships and livelihood security. The fieldwork lasted twelve months during which qualitative and quantitative data from two adjacent communities in the eastern side of Addis Ababa were collected.
Chart, Hilary Rebecca, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Becoming Business People: Emergent and Contested Forms of Entrepreneurship in Urban Botswana,' supervised by Dr. Sylvia Junko Yanagisako
HILARY R. CHART, then a student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, received funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Becoming Business People: In Pursuit of Entrepreneurship in Botswana,' supervised by Dr. Sylvia Yanagisako. In Botswana's capital city, it seems everyone is 'in business' as men, women, youth, elders, wealthy professionals, and the poor and unemployed alike describe their entrepreneurial activities with enthusiasm. This is hardly surprising in the context of soaring unemployment and heavy government promotion of small business. Yet widespread claims of entrepreneurship are new here and based on tremendously diverse practices that are fiercely contested. There is much debate over what counts as 'real business,' who can legitimately claim to be an entrepreneur, and what practices-including the religious, illicit, and occult-may fuel or undermine success. These debates are enlivened by personal struggles and moral convictions and complexly invoke the politics of class, gender, ethnicity, and generation. Drawing on eighteen months of ethnographic research with state entrepreneurship promoters and their clients-teachers and students of business in primary, secondary, and tertiary classrooms, as well as diverse entrepreneurs operating in a single urban neighborhood-the research approaches business as more than a pre-defined set of economic activities. Amidst global trends of rising unemployment, flexibility, and insecurity, and the worldwide expansion of micro-enterprise initiatives, the dissertation explores how business emerges as a cultural production that profoundly makes (and re-makes) social fields, if not always money.
Sandesara, Utpal Niranjan, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Prenatal Kinship and Selective Reproduction: The Process of Sex Selection in an Indian Community,' supervised by Dr. Philippe Bourgois
Preliminary abstract: Over the past three decades, the selective abortion of female fetuses has emerged as a prominent form of gendered violence in northwestern India. While state institutions have attempted to combat the practice, the number of sex-selective abortions has remained constant or risen in most regions during the past twenty years. I propose to explore this situation by conducting twelve months of multi-sited ethnographic research on the process of sex selection in Mahesana, Gujarat. Tracing the process across household, clinical, and governmental settings will allow me to connect the views, experiences, and practices of reproductive-aged women with those of husbands, senior relatives, clinicians, brokers, and government officials, thereby elucidating the gendered power relations that sustain sex selection despite efforts to combat it. My project will empirically link gender-kinship norms with medicalized reproduction and state governance by exploring three key questions: What norms and practices underlie desires for sons over daughters in the present sociohistorical context? How do biomedical practitioners come to participate in sex selection, and how do different clinical actors manage the technical, economic, and moral ambiguities in the process? And how do state policies construct, engage, and impact sex selection as a social crisis? Through a focus on the simultaneous reproduction of individual bodies and the social order, and using the analytic of gendered violence, my project will generate a framework for exploring gender, kinship, and violence in the prenatal period. (This submission requests funding for the second phase [last six months] of the project.)
Hakyemez, Serra M., Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'The Double Side of Law: Minority Cultural Rights and Anti-Terror Laws in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
Preliminary abstract: Two sets of legal reforms enacted in the 2000s in Turkey have changed the way the state deals with Kurdish minorities significantly. The new legislation on minority rights allows Kurds to exercise some of their formerly prohibited linguistic and cultural rights. The enactment of the new anti-terror law, however, has simultaneously expanded the scope of prosecutable acts of terrorism and enhanced the state's capacity to control Kurdish political dissent. These two series of legal provisions have produced a paradoxical effect of rendering Kurdish subjects vulnerable to the charges of terrorism when they exercise their newly granted cultural rights. By conducting an ethnographic study of the open court trials of anti-terrorism cases and the circulation of stories about those very trials in the Kurdish community in Diyarbakir, I will examine how legal processes validate or unsettle the conceptual distinction between permissible cultural expressions and criminal acts of terrorism. This research aims to understand, first, how the law is used to both express the legitimacy of cultural rights for minorities and contain such expressions through the discourse of security; and second, how minority groups give voice to their own struggle with the law within the rubric of the Turkish state.
Zhang, Yinong, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Embodying Memory: Transforming Religious Practices of a Tibetan Village in Post-Reform China,' supervised by Dr. David H. Holmberg
YINONG ZHANG, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, received funding in June 2003 to aid research on 'Embodying Memory: Transforming Religious Practices of a Tibetan Village in Post-Reform China,' supervised by Dr. David H. Holmberg. This project was carried out primarily in a Tibetan village, Taktsang Lhamo, (Chinese: Langmusi) located on the contemporary provincial border of Gansu and Sichuan in western China between October 2003 and April 2005. After more than fifty years of incorporation into China, Tibetan society has experienced significant social transformations - from the overall attack on its culture and religion during the Cultural Revolution period (1966-1976) to the economic and social reform since the 1980s. Focusing on the revival of religious practices after the 1980s, when religious expression was again allowed by the Chinese government, this research was based on both the practical and emotional aspect of the everyday life in this village. In particular, the grantee observed religious and ritual events, festivals, language expressions, and ethnic interactions between Tibetan, Chinese, and Muslims. These practices constitute a significant body of social memories through which new ethnic identities have been reconstructed within the context of a rapidly changing Chinese state. Furthermore, by looking at the embodying process of social memories in these daily practices, the research also shows an internalization and negotiation between modern multi-ethnic nation state-building and local concerns about it.
Lynch, Jane Elizabeth, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Fashioning Value: Materiality, Cloth, and Political Economy in India,' supervised by Dr. Webb Keane
JANE E. LYNCH, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Fashioning Value: Materiality, Cloth, and Political Economy in India,' supervised by Dr. Webb Keane. This research examined the consequences and prospects of economic liberalization in contemporary India through a study of the handloom textile industry. Given its historical depth and institutional diversity -- ranging from cooperative societies and government corporations to private companies and self-help groups -- this industry and its politics offer unique perspectives on India's transition from state-led economic development to market liberalization. By focusing on the workings and institutional frictions of the commodity networks for cloth woven in the central Indian town of Chanderi, this study examined the social geographies, moral claims about production and consumption, and locally mediated conceptions of ownership and community that are navigated and produced in the commoditization of cloth. Ethnographic research undertaken in Chanderi as well as in the cities of Indore and Delhi, revealed a key effect of liberalization on this industry has been the heightened competition over intellectual property and rights to production, for example, in terms of branding. Extended fieldwork and document-based research showed that practices of branding are being defined not only in terms of consumer sentiment, but also through the efforts of institutions, collectivities, and individuals to delineated -- on moral grounds -- the ways in which cloth can be manufactured, valued, and owned.