Paz, Alejandro I., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Emergence of Latinos in Israel: Migration, Forms of Contact, and Discursive Transformation,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein
ALEJANDRO I. PAZ, then a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in August 2004 to aid research on 'The emergence of Latinos in Israel: Migration, Forms of Contact, and Discursive Transformation,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein. Mostly due to mass deportations and anxiety-ridden flight in the last three years, Latinos in Israel have become a declining ethnic group, whose major ordering organizations have substantially changed. Churches and soccer leagues, which used to function as both meeting points for networks of friends as well as ritual centers for the celebration of Latino ethnic qualities in relation to Israel, have been decimated, and less formal organizations of households and friends have taken their place as the major sites for maintaining a sense of Latino ethno-linguistic identity. Latinos are conscious of their difference because of the fragility of their undocumented status, the work they do, the language they speak, the friendship networks which hold them together, and the set of holidays they celebrate separately from the Jewish nation. Especially among the youth, they and the NGOs that mediate their voice in the public sphere would have that difference recognized as a typical ethnicity comparable to any Jewish immigrant group. The differences that mark this group are, as expected, found in both their speech and their consciousness of speech. While for them, Israelis speak impatiently and often too aggressively, Latin Americans speak alegre, happily, and with more ritual. Although many adults are irritated by Israeli lack of manners, they have adjusted and many favor Israelis' more 'liberal' and 'modern' mores in comparison to Latin American 'conservatism' and 'underdevelopment'. There is then, a dialectic, often played out between parents and their children, where Latinos find themselves adopting apparent Israeli speech even as they preserve Latin American speech norms as part of their children's education.
Fraga, Christopher, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Traffic in Contemporary Mexican Art Photography,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Abercrombie
CHRISTOPHER FRAGA, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in August 2007 to aid research on 'The traffic in contemporary Mexican art photography,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Abercrombie. The project sought to analyze the relationships between the changing political economy of the Mexican state and the aesthetics of art photography circulating in publications, exhibitions, and private sales. Over the course of fifteen months of research in Mexico City, the primary researcher acted as a participant observer in a wide range of art world and photography activities, focusing on how individual photographers were responding to the recently elected conservative government's redistribution of state support for the arts. The concentration of state resources in monumental projects (such as the newly inaugurated University Museum of Contemporary Art) has forced young artists and photographers to assume a curatorial function toward their own work, which in turn has pushed their artistic production in new, more critical directions. This project suggests that the poetics of contemporary Mexican photography challenges dominant art historical discourses about contemporary artistic production, rejecting neo-exotic representations of Mexico as a land of perennial, violent banditry.
Sum, Chun Yi, Boston U., Boston, MA - To aid research on 'The New Vanguard of Civil Society: Morality and Civic Consciousness among College Students in China,' supervised by Dr. Robert P. Weller
CHUN YI SUM, then a student at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'The New Vanguard of Civil Society: Morality and Civic Consciousness among College Students in China,' supervised by Dr. Robert P. Weller. How do campus organizations affect the cultivation of moral personhood and civic consciousness among Chinese college students? How do expressions of individuality, civility, and morality in student organizations illuminate the nature and development of governance and civil society in Communist China? Analyzing students' motivations of participation and their experiences in volunteering and organizational activities in an elite university in southern China, this dissertation examines how extra-curricular interest groups mediate students' identities and relationships with their peers, the society at large, and various levels of school and state authorities. In this informal, voluntary, and less supervised sphere of tertiary education, frequent contestations and negotiations of individuality and social boundaries have driven young people to reflect critically on their roles and responsibilities in the transforming political economy and moral communities. This research argues that associational experience in the Chinese university has unwittingly disempowered and disillusioned well-intentioned youth from enthusiastic anticipation of, and active engagement in, civic affairs and social initiatives. The exposures to campus politics and social injustices have promoted a sense of inadequacy and helplessness, rather than preparing participants for social integrations as the study's interlocutors have initially hoped. This project examines the manifestations of individualism and civility among China's future elites, and discusses peculiarities and development of China's civil and uncivil society in the midst of new opportunities and challenges presented by changing imaginations in national and global modernities.
Kelkar, Shreeharsh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Platformizing Higher Education: Computer Scientists and the Making of MOOC Infrastructure,' supervised by Dr. Graham Jones
SHREEHARSH KELKAR, then a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in October 2013 to aid research on 'Platformizing Higher Education: Computer Scientists and the Making of MOOC Infrastructure,' supervised by Dr. Graham Jones. In the hugely popular Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), organizations like edX, and Coursera, in collaboration with elite universities, have created computing infrastructures to offer prospective students anywhere in the world a highly interactive distance learning experience. Focusing on edX, this dissertation tracks the development of edX's computing infrastructure through an ethnographic study of three professional communities organized around it: software engineers, instructors, and learning researchers, housed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the California Bay Area. It shows that these MOOC platform-builders draw self-conscious inspiration from the technical precedents and work practices of Internet platforms like Amazon and Google. In so doing, these actors transfer their expertise in building Internet platforms to the domain of teaching and learning (for example, they see training students to assess each other's homework as similar to getting crowds to do micro-tasks, or 'crowdsourcing' in their parlance)-the author labels this phenomenon 'platformization.' He argues that the consequences of MOOCs for higher education may stem less from their use as alternative credentialing mechanisms than from their framing as exemplary infrastructures for higher education institutions to imitate, bringing norms from the software industry into higher education.
Bakker, Sarah Aaltje, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Ancient Moderns: Claiming Middle Eastern Christian Identity in the Netherlands,' supervised by Dr. Melissa L. Caldwell
SARAH AALTJE BAKKER, then a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, California, received a grant in May 2009, to aid research on 'Ancient Moderns: Claiming Middle Eastern Christian Identity in the Netherlands,' supervised by Dr. Melissa L. Caldwell. This dissertation research examines debates among Syriac Orthodox Christians living in the Netherlands about how to be religiously, culturally, and ethnically distinct despite the narrative binary of Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East that dominates the secular discourse of Dutch multiculturalism. This ethnographically based project focuses on Dutch-Syriac efforts to cultivate a distinct moral identity that encompasses both their religious commitment to an ancient, sacred past -- as well as their political aspirations to achieve recognition as an indigenous ethnic group in the Middle East -- through international diasporic activism. This identity is crafted and contested through the practice of liturgical song (the focal point of Syriac religious observance and cultural performance), and then deployed via political advocacy and activism in a broader global field. In this study, musical expression and moral identity emerge as distinct yet entangled threads from Syriac Orthodox Christian engagements with the Dutch multiculturalism debates and with international geopolitical conversations about secularism, political identity, and religious identity. Even as they negotiate persistent marginalization and misrecognition, Middle Eastern Christians unsettle the racial and religious categories undergirding the popular narrative of Judeo-Christian secular Europe, defining new conceptions of religious difference within a plural Europe.
Njau, Jackson K., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Vertebrate Taphonomy and Paleoecology of Lake-Margin Wetlands during Oldowan Times in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine
JACKSON K. NJAU, while a student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, received an award December 2001 to aid research on the vertebrate taphonomy and paleoecology of lake-margin wetlands during Oldowan times in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, under the supervision of Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine. Njau's objective was to develop ecological models of landscape facets as they pertained to early hominids and large wetland vertebrate fauna during the Plio-Pleistocene at Olduvai Gorge. The ultimate goal was to understand the ecological contexts in which the behaviors of stone-tool-using human ancestors evolved. Studying the feeding behavior of captive crocodiles and their consumption of large mammalian carcasses, Njau developed basic taphonomic guidelines for distinguishing the effects of crocodilians from those of large terrestrial carnivores in bone accumulations. He also studied large-vertebrate bone assemblages on modern wetland land surfaces in Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lakes Manyara and Eyasi. Systematic and intensive bone surveys were carried out at a very fine landscape scale in order to match environmental settings that might have existed in ancient Olduvai lake deposits, where unusually rich paleontological and archaeological material has been collected. Modern analog studies provided a useful tool in developing techniques for identifying the taphonomic characteristics of landscape sub-environments for application to prehistoric landscapes.
Njau, Jackson K., and Leslea J. Hlusko. 2010. Fine-Tuning Paleoanthropological Reconnaissance with High-Resolution Satellite Imager: The Discovery of 28 New Sites in Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 59(6):680-684.
Njau, Jackson K., and Robert J. Blumenschine. 2006. A diagnosis of crocodile feeding traces on larger mammal bone, with fossil examples from the Plio-Pleistocene Olduvai Basin, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 50 (2006): 142-162
Dumes, Abigail Anne, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'The U.S. Lyme Disease Controversy: Medical Knowledge, Biopolitics, and the Environment,' supervised by Dr. Marcia Claire Inhorn
ABIGAIL A. DUMES, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in January 2011, to aid research on 'The U.S. Lyme Disease Controversy: Medical Knowledge, Biopolitics, and the Environment,' supervised by Dr. Marcia C. Inhorn. This project examined the controversy that surrounds the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease in the United States. In particular, it investigated why, in a new era of 'evidence-based medicine' (i.e., the paradigmatic shift toward the scientific standardization of biomedical practice), there are two emergent 'standards of care' for Lyme disease and, more critically, how these standards of care are intimately linked to understandings of political power and the natural environment. Through ethnographic fieldwork conducted among Lyme disease patients, physicians, and scientists throughout the Northeast, the researcher explored: 1) the relationship between evidence-based medicine and the production and practice of biomedical knowledge; 2) attitudes toward the political regulation of Lyme diagnosis and treatment; and 3) changing understandings of the natural environment, as they affect and are affected by understandings of Lyme disease. The findings of this research suggest that, although intended to standardize medical practice, evidence-based medicine amplifies differences in opinion by creating a formula for reproducible legitimacy. In the case of Lyme disease, it also produces a platform for political legibility and the manageability of environmental risk.
Shi, Lihong, Tulane U., New Orleans, LA - To aid research on 'Embracing a Singleton-Daughter: An Emerging Transition of Reproductive Choice in Rural Northeast China,' supervised by Dr. Shanshan Du
LIHONG SHI, then a student at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, was awarded funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Embracing a Singleton-Daughter: An Emerging Transition of Reproductive Choice in Rural Northeast China,' supervised by Dr. Shanshan Du. This dissertation field research was conducted in a rural community and the surrounding areas in Liaoning in northeast China from August 2006 to August 2007. The grantee explored an emerging transition of reproductive choice in rural northeast China where a substantial number of peasant couples have chosen to have a singleton-daughter (only one child, a daughter), rather than take advantage of the modified birth-control policy that allows them a second child if their first birth has produced a girl. Based on intensive interviews, surveys, participant observation, and archival research, the grantee examined the scope and the socio-cultural underpinnings of the emerging transition of reproductive choice. The field research reveals that an emerging transition of peasant couples embracing a singleton-daughter is taking place in rural Northeast China. This transformation of reproductive preference is closely associated with a gendered shift of old-age support, a weakened dedication to the patrilineage, and women's empowerment in making decisions concerning their own reproduction.
Hyman, Marita E., Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Mathematics and the Aboriginal Imagination: Correspondences and Conflicts in Northeast Arnhem Land,' supervised by Dr. Viranjini Munasinghe
MARITA E. HYMAN, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Mathematics and the Aboriginal Imagination: Correspondences and Conflicts in Northeast Arnhem Land,' supervised by Dr. Viranjini Munasinghe. Mathematical imagination extends beyond the use of numbers to define and create external reality. During research with Yolngu people, the grantee examined the production of Yolngu artwork, observing ceremonial practices, learning kinship roles, and analyzing the relations between people's identity and their land to establish the daily connections between lifeworlds and mathematical mindsets. The project has explored the principle of rrambangi (equality) and balance through embedded Yolngu social settings to describe interactions that appear chaotic, but only at the surface. The expression of unity through division begins at the central core of Yolngu culture represented by two moieties and becomes embedded in the quotidian activities of family life, language use, ceremonial activities, bark paintings and woven pandanas reed products. From describing spirits of invisible width to representing the infinite expanse of space, Yolngu worlds also capture a similar characteristic of nonYolngu mathematical imagination in their attempt to access the inaccessible. The research has uncovered a correspondence between efforts by both Western mathematics and Yolngu practices to project a reality beyond the easily describable but from their respective culturally-specific mathematical perspectives.
Mitchell, Judith D., McGill U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'The Role of Gender in Property Rights and Natural Resource Management in a Pastoral Community, Northern Kenya', supervised by Dr. John G. Galaty
JUDITH D. MITCHELL, while a student at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, received funding in September 2002 to aid research on the role of gender in property rights and natural resource management in a pastoral community in northern Kenya, under the supervision of Dr. John G. Galaty. Over seven months in 2002-3, Mitchell carried out field research with pastoral women in three locations in northern Kenya (East Uaso Division in Samburu District and Karare and Songa Locations in Marsabit District). Her goal was to generate further understanding of the role of Samburu and Ariaal Rendille women in four primary realms: knowledge and management of natural resources, access to or ownership of land and other resources, access to cash income and the 'market,' and involvement in the genesis and mediation of conflict. Another objective was to investigate the extent of women's continuing relationships with in-laws and natal kin. Research methods included census surveys, mapping, participant observation, unstructured interviews with district and community leaders, semistructured interviews with women and men regarding household and natural resource management, focus groups with women and men to discuss household disputes and local conflict, and oral life histories with female and male elders. Prelimina