Fish, Allison Elizabeth, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Owning Transnational Yoga: Intellectual and Cultural Property Claims to a Traditional Practice,' supervised by Dr. William Michael Maurer
ALLISON E. FISH, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, received a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Owning Transnational Yoga: Intellectual and Cultural Property Claims to a Traditional Practice,' supervised by Dr. William Maurer. Research related to this project took place primarily in Bangalore, Dehli, and California. What the grantee terms 'transnational yoga' is an example of the rapid transformation that forms of traditional cultural knowledge undergo as they are increasingly offered in commoditized form to consumers in affluent and cosmopolitan markets. The research takes two US federal district court cases, Bikram v. Schreiber-Morrison et al. and Open Source Yoga Unity v. Bikram as a starting point. These suits served as the catalyst triggering open conflict concerning the proprietary nature of yogic knowledge. In researching the resulting dispute, the grantee attends to two sets of reactions. The first is that of the Indian state, which is concerned with what it perceives to be the on-going piracy of its national-cultural heritage. The study focuses upon the state's own claim to yoga and its attempt to protect this claim through the construction of a traditional knowledge digital library. Secondly, the research examines the reactions of select yoga organizations, which have also adopted intellectual property claims. In tracing these relationships the grantee shows how not only yoga, but also other cultural objects (such as intellectual property) are contested and reconfigured. In doing this, the project contributes to a re-examination of the tradition-modernity binary.
Staudt, Smiti Nathan, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Ingenuity in the Oasis: An Examination of Early Bronze Age Agricultural Communities in Oman,' supervised by Dr. Rita Wright
Preliminary abstract: This project will investigate the socio-economic foundations of oasis communities during the Early Bronze Age (EBA) (ca. 3100BCE -- 2000BCE) in southeastern Arabia. These relatively small-scale communities demonstrate strategic organizational and subsistence choices in extreme environments and climates that led to the establishment of widespread oasis agriculture communities across the landscape. This project will operate as a contextualized study of settlement patterning and plant cultivation and usage amongst EBA oasis communities in southeastern Arabia through the integration of geospatial, ethnoarchaeological, and archaeobotanical analyses. Decision-making strategies of EBA inhabitants will be contextualized and analyzed using niche construction frameworks that focus on humans as agents of cultural change. This project will examine how EBA communities organized themselves, practiced plant cultivation, strategized decision-making, and, thus, contributed to the maintenance and spread of oasis agriculture communities, which provided the socio-economic foundations for development of complexity in southeastern Arabia.
Junge, Marvin B., Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Gender, Sexuality and Citizenship: Emergent Masculinities in Porto Alegre, Brazil,' supervised by Dr. Bruce M. Knauft
MARVIN B. JUNGE, while a student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, received an award in December 2001 to aid ethnographic research on emergent masculinities in Porto Alegre, Brazil, under the supervision of Dr. Bruce M. Knauft. During eighteen months' residence in one Porto Alegre slum (vila), Junge employed semistructured interviews, participant observation, community organization attendance, and other research methods to examine the relationship between gender and politics in the everyday-life discourse and practice of neighborhood residents. Specifically, he considered how the experience of the social world in gendered terms converged with understandings of the ways in which self and community were related, particularly understandings conveyed in the government and social movement discourses of rights, citizenship, and grassroots participation that distinguished Porto Alegre's sociopolitical landscape. Junge examined the ways in which awareness of one's relationship to a broader collectivity (incited in political discourse) influenced and was influenced by one's understanding of self and others in gendered terms. By considering different kinds of encounters with political discourse, ranging from direct participation in a social movement organization to 'passive' encounters in daily life, he aimed to shed light on the circulation of political discourse and its complex refractions of and by prevailing gender logics in an era characterized by increasingly heterogeneous representations of gender and sexuality and innovative models of participatory democracy.
Arnavas, Ms. Chiara, London School of Economics, London, UK - To aid research on 'What is in a Land Right?,' supervised by Dr. Laura Bear
Preliminary abstract: The aim of my project is to advance the anthropology of citizenship through a study of a social movement for land rights among a peri-urban migrant community in Rajarhat, in the north-eastern periphery of Kolkata, India. This community of East Bengali origins has been dispossessed from houses and land to make way for a new modern high-tech township for commercial and residential use. By exploring the emergence of an anti-dispossession movement among this community, my research will explore concepts of rights within this movement, how they emerge and their consequences for engagements with the state. My research will focus on idioms of rights, practices of claim-making, and self-representations among the community. Using theoretical insights from recent work in the anthropology of politics and citizenship in neoliberalism, I will examine how rights to land are a contested and historically constituted social field. Moreover, I hope to show how, for refugees, land entitlements from the state can foster connections to the site of resettlement, which can become a place of refuge, of belonging, of political and social engagement. Therefore, focusing on this community's struggle against dispossession, I will examine to what extent citizen's concepts of land rights challenge the stability and inequality of neo-liberal notions of rights.
Naidu, Prashanthan, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Placing Smell: Sensing Hydrocarbon Encroachment on the Timorese Coast,' supervised by Dr. Stuart Kirsch
Preliminary abstract: How can the constitution of place be better understood through a more carefully honed attention to the sense of smell? This project investigates the relationship between the sense of smell and perceptions of place among the Mambai of East Timor, especially in relation to recent land expropriation. Since 2009, the East Timorese state and the hydrocarbon industry have encroached upon Mambai land for oil and gas extraction. The industry justifies its territorial expansion into Mambai land through the use of visually oriented technologies such as maps, property documents, and geographic information systems (GIS), that render perceptible the intangible profits available to the industry. Extractive activities also pollute the atmosphere and environment, thereby disrupting Mambai peoples' sense of place, which is primarily conceived through smell. Through eighteen months of ethnographic research in Betano district, I explore the significance of olfaction in Mambai perception of place. In my research I examine how olfactory pollution alters the local smellscape for the Mambai, and affects subsistence activities, and the way they relate to their territory. Through a triangulation of methods that include smell diaries, participant observation, and shadowing industry personnel, I will assess how the use of senses informs the ways that Mambai and the industry conceive of place. This project thus contributes to an anthropology of the senses by showing how places are imagined, lived, and contested.
Doerksen, Mark D., Concordia U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'The New Humans: Emerging Theories and Practices of Sensory Modification,' supervised by Dr. Kregg Hetherington
Preliminary abstract: Grinders are self-described as people who take part in do-it-yourself experimental surgeries to implant electronic technology into their bodies in order to enhance their sensory abilities and transcend their corporal limits. The engineered human/machine hybrid of these implants opens up both potential for new sensory abilities and forms of communication, as well as concomitant possibilities for outside influence and interference from the resulting networks. Without any official oversight, grinders experiment on their bodies yet must also navigate the largely online grinder scene to establish collaborative opportunities and share experiences necessary for projects to succeed. Borrowing from McLuhan's (1988) theories of technology and media, and Law's (2004) methods as reality-building, I examine the relationship between grinders' implants and the worlds their senses create by asking: What socio-material networks does the implant enhance, amplify, or intensify? What does it make obsolete or lessen the importance of? What does it recover from previous historical sensory conceptions? This ethnography focuses on the projects of grinders where implants are designed to deliver information into the body (e.g. magnet implants that sense electromagnetic fields) and/or out of the body (e.g. implants that sense biometric data) to challenge what some scholars have described as dominance of the visual over other senses.
Seaver, Nicholas Patrick, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Computing Taste: The Making of Algorithmic Music Recommendation,' supervised by Dr. William M. Maurer
NICK SEAVER, then a student at the University of California, Irvine, California received funding in November 2013 for ethnographic research on 'Computing Taste: The Making of Algorithmic Music Recommendation Systems,' supervised by Dr. Bill Mauer. Fieldwork was conducted in academic and industry sites across the US and at international conferences for researchers in music informatics and recommender systems. Algorithmic music recommendation provided a case for investigating how contemporary technologists imagine and manage the relationship between the 'cultural' and the 'technical.' Counter to dominant critical narratives that suppose technologists to subjugate the cultural to the technical, the grantee found a variety of ad hoc, tentative cultural theories in play among his interlocutors. These theories appeared to be co-constituted with the technologies being built: specific theories about taste-that it had to do with music's sound, for example-supported and were supported by specific infrastructures: systems that analyzed audio data. The breadth and interpretive flexibility of data collected and the tentative nature of these cultural theories lead to a situation in which cultural infrastructures and theories are extraordinarily malleable. Results point to the importance of considering taste and algorithms as specific, located, and variable techniques, rather than as outcomes of latent, stable logics of technology, or preference.
Hopkins, Mariah E., U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Spatial Foraging Patterns and Ranging Behavior of Mantled Howler Monkeys (Alouatta palliata), in Panama,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Milton
MARIAH E. HOPKINS, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in December 2005, to aid research on 'Spatial Foraging Patterns and Ranging Behavior of Mantled Howler Monkeys (Alouatta Palliata), in Panama,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Milton. One of the most defining characteristics of the primate order --- and humans in particular -- is the extraordinary capacity for learning and retention. Many primatologists have pointed to the cognitive demands of foraging as an important selective pressure for intelligence, linking a primate's ability to exploit resources that are unevenly distributed in space and time to survival and reproductive success. Yet, while analyses of the strategies that humans employ to obtain resources are common, we still know relatively little about the methods that wild primates use to find desired resources across heterogeneous landscapes. This project addresses this need by using mantled howler monkeys as a model species to explore the role of spatial information (such as landscape structure, resource distribution patterns, and locations of neighboring groups) in guiding primate movements and foraging decisions. Models of animal movement developed in this research synthesize methods established in the fields of operations research and human geography for novel application to primate ecology. Results not only shed light on an important evolutionary pressure in primate evolution, they also yield a better understanding of the complex relationships between primates and their habitats -- information critical to developing management plans for both threatened primate species and tropical forests.
Medhat, Katayoun T., U. College London, London, UK - To aid 'Bi-Cultural Discourse in Mental Healthcare: An Ethnography of Organizational Dynamics in Navajo Health Services,' supervised by Dr. Roland Littlewood
KATAYOUN T. MEDHAT, then a student at University College London, London, United Kingdom, received funding in August 2004 to aid 'Bi-Cultural Discourse in Mental Healthcare: An Ethnography of Organizational Dynamics in Navajo Health Services,' supervised by Dr. Roland Littlewood. Focusing on healthcare organizations as micro-cosmic representations of socio-cultural structure and ideation, this is a comparative ethnographic study of one community, and one hospital-based mental health service on the Navajo Nation. The study considers changes to administration and funding policy and their impact on service development and professional identity in the context of (post-) colonial discourse. The bureaucratization and hierarchization of the healing domain may be seen as a global phenomenon, where competition for scarce resources and third-party-issued guidelines increasingly define treatment process.
In the quest to commodify health-services, professional boundaries dissolve in a metamorphic exchange by which administrators become clinicians and clinicians become administrators. These developments lead to progressively standardized definitions of illness and treatment. Thus, paradoxically, while the importance of asserting and expressing (cultural) identity in a 'pluralistic' society is prominently acknowledged, difference in the context of healthcare -- be it in terms of symptomatology, professional credentials, or treatment approaches -- is systematically displaced.
Whereas culture as form may be tolerated and even promoted, culture as substance cannot be accommodated by a homogenized system seeking to establish its efficacy through economic viability. Discourse on change in this context is typically ambiguous: While the idea of 'progress' and 'integration' is perceived as seductive, challenging and finally as unavoidable by a majority, it is equally felt that 'progress' and 'traditional values' cannot co-exist peacefully, leading to the bitter-sweet realization that the inevitable process of change constitutes a protracted swan-song of a quasi-mythologized congruent cu