Koehler, Catherine Marie, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Death of a Thousand Cuts: Union Corporate Campaigns, RICO Litigation, and the Struggle to Define Economic Rights in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Vilma Santiago-Irizarry
CATHERINE KOEHLER, then a student at Cornell University, received funding in October 2009, to aid research on ''Death By a Thousand Cuts:' Union Corporate Campaigns, RICO Litigation, and the Struggle to Define Economic Rights in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Vilma Santiago-Irizarry. This research sought to ethnographically situate unfolding, disputed and sometimes conflicting struggles to define collective economic rights in the United States, asking: How are collective economic rights variably constituted? What are the meaningful divergences in these constitutions? And, finally, What are the consequences of these divergences? This was contextualized within the reformulation of rights under neoliberalism, where class-based rights claims are both structurally and ideologically foreclosed. Towards these ends, the grantee conducted extensive participant observation with both unionized corrections workers and incarcerated men at a maximum security prison in Central New York. This primary research was augmented by archival research, ethnographic interviews, and collected material sources (media, legal decisions, legislative documents, union memoranda, etc.). Preliminary findings suggest that a central tension emerges from the doubling of the prison as both a worksite (for corrections workers and the incarcerated, who are paid for their labor within the facility) and a site of confinement. Economic rights, then, were constituted in moments of dissonance and discord between corrections staff and the incarcerated over the relations of work performed within a carceral context. Moreover, this dissonance was articulated through highly racialized idioms, where 'honest work' against criminality intersects with 'slave labor' for the state. Ultimately, this divergent constitution of rights served to de/legitimize confinement as a mechanism of both punishment and reform.
Aulino, Felicity, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Transforming Death, Transforming Society: Palliative Caregiving Networks in Thailand,' supervised by Dr. Byron J. Good
FELICITY AULINO, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded funding in May 2008 to aid research on 'Transforming Death, Transforming Society: Palliative Caregiving Networks in Thailand,' supervised by Dr. Byron J. Good. In northern Thailand, the government, the private sector, and civil society alike are increasingly promoting home-based care models for the elderly. Therein, family members and community volunteers face the challenges of carework amidst a web of social caregiving norms challenged by economic and demographic changes, international elder care initiatives, and the daily grind of providing physical care. This research explores caregiver subjectivity and emergent social networks related to the shifting landscape of care for dependent elderly and those nearing death in this setting. The resulting dissertation theorizes a distinctly Thai logic of psychological support and emphasizes Thai attention to and care of the social body as key to understanding the influence (and limitations) of larger-scale elder care reform efforts. Care for the elderly thus offers a glimpse of life in the shadows of institutions: where traditions are calibrated and embodied, where global ideals are carried out or countered, and where communities of like-mindedness emerge and grow.
Paredes, Oona, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Converting Conflict: Religion and Raiding in Northeast Mindanao in the Early Colonial Period (1596-1811),' supervised by Dr. James F. Eder
OONA T. PAREDES, while a student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, was awarded a grant in May 2004 to aid research on the impact of missionization on indigenous social organization in the southern Philippines during the early Spanish colonial period, supervised by Dr. James F. Eder. From July 2004 to April 2005, Paredes studied primary sources archived in manuscript, microfilm, and digitized formats, and housed in five different collections in the United States and Spain. The object of this ethnohistorical study was to understand how religious conversion in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, and the missionary presence in general, may have produced major changes in local warfare, settlement patterns, political interaction, and demography - and as a consequence significant transformations in ethnic identity - among non-Muslim peoples in northeast Mindanao. Data was collected from a wide range of original mission and colonial administration documents in Spanish, including: two centuries worth of notarized papers establishing the encomienda (land grant or trust) infrastructure of northeast Mindanao; petitions from local leaders (datu) negotiating vassalage with the King of Spain in exchange for military assistance; and reports of the ongoing conflicts with neighboring indigenous Muslims. Because they are routinely portrayed and treated as people who exist outside of the Philippine colonial experience - viz., meaningless to the nation's modern cultural milieu except as precolonial icons - a related aim of this study was to recognize the proper historical and cultural provenience of Mindanao's indigenous non-Muslim peoples, whose descendants now use the Cebuano term Lumad ('born from the earth') for self-reference.
Elish, Madeleine Clare, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Shifting Soldiers and the Social Logic of Drone Warfare,' supervised by Dr. Paul Kockelman
Preliminary abstract: How are new human-machine configurations in the control of drone warfare implicated in new practices and conceptions of soldiering, violence and accountability? Based on ethnographic research within a series of communities whose work informs the research, development and use of drones, including two computer science and engineering research labs as well as communities of Air Force veterans in the Northeastern United States, I will investigate how diverse actors construct and experience a variety of shifting boundaries, between human and machine, between home and battlefield, and between citizen and soldier. How do new forms of agency and accountability emerge within this shifting landscape, and how are the conditions under which violence, war and propinquity are understood being reconfigured? This project contributes to longstanding debates within anthropology as to the social condition of war, conceptions of violence and the relationship between technology, the material world and forms of agency and accountability. Moreover, as the 'War on Terror' enters its second decade, at stake in this project are not just the ways in which war is being fought but also the ways in which these new forms of warfare are remaking our contemporary social, political and economic realities.
Tacey, Ivan Charles, U. Lumiere Lyon II, Lyon, France - To aid research on 'Transformations to Space and Place: A Case Study of the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia,' supervised by Dr. Lionel Obadia
IVAN C. TACEY, then a student at University Lumiere Lyon II, Lyon, France, received a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Transformations to Space and Place: A Case Study of the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia,' supervised by Dr. Lionel Obadia. This research examined place-making and processes of territorialization in contemporary Peninsular Malaysia among the Batek, an indigenous minority people. Research was also undertaken with government agents, NGOs, and lawyers working with indigenous peoples in Malaysia. Since the 1970s deforestation, tourism, mining, and illegal poaching have brought increasing numbers of outsiders into the Batek's world. Multi-sited fieldwork was undertaken to examine the complex interactions between the Batek and the wide array of actors who now move through their traditional territory. Methodologies used to gain data on how Batek links to landscape are made and transformed included: GPS mapping; the collection of historical and religious stories; ethnographic interviews; surveys; and participant observation. Initial research findings demonstrate how Batek society, religion, and connections to landscape are being radically altered by national and global pressures. The Batek are acutely aware of how landscape changes and intensification of transnational flows of people, objects, and ideas have transformed their environments and sacred places. This awareness has informed new figurations within their cosmology, social discourses, and symbolic worlds. A key research finding concerned the emergence of Batek topophobia and 'tropes of fear:' dynamic, figurative manifestations of collective anxieties about unrelenting and uncontrollable global processes.
Joffe, Ben Philip, U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'White Robes, Matted Hair: Tibetan Renouncers, Institutional Authority, and the Mediation of Charisma in Exile,' supervised by Dr. Carole Ann McGranahan
Preliminary abstract: What is the relationship between institutional authority and religious power in Tibetan exile? My research focuses on how the charisma and legacy of Ngagpa Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche, the former official weather controller of the Tibetan exile government - are being institutionalized and mediated in exile following his death. Ngagpa (m) and ngagma (f), are non-celibate, professional Buddhist renouncers who specialize in esoteric ritual traditions. Simultaneously existing in and straddling lay and monastic worlds, they reside in a shifting third space of accommodation and resistance to mainstream structures. With the invasion of Tibet by China in 1950, Tibetan refugees in India have struggled to make a sovereign nation legible and legitimate in exile, and to rebuild political and social institutions away from home. The once de-centralized religious traditions of virtuoso ngagpa/mas are now being preserved in durable institutions, fixed in texts, and taught increasingly to foreigners. Researching Yeshe Dorje's institution in India and its resident ngagpa/mas, I examine how the politics of ritual power are playing out in exile communities. Using ngagpa/mas' charisma as a lens through which to explore unfolding politics of reform in diaspora, I show how the forging of cultural coherence in exile involves both creativity and contradiction.
Nalbantian, Tsolin, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Native to National?: Collective Identity Production in Beirut's Armenian Neighborhoods 1991-2005,' supervised by Dr. Rashid Khalidi
TSOLIN NALBANTIAN, then a student at Columbia University, was awarded funding in November 2007 to aid research on 'Native To National? Collective Identity Production In Beirut's Armenian Neighborhoods,' supervised by Dr. Rashid Khalidi. This research was a historical-anthropological, multi-sited ethnography of the Armenian community of greater Beirut, Lebanon. This research examined manifestations of collective identity and competing representations of the homeland and nation through the medium of media and a variety of cultural records, such as religious and educational documents from a variety social, cultural, and religious organizations. Research was conducted among various Armenian community media outlets located in Armenian-populated neighborhoods of Beirut and in Armenian social, religious, and cultural organizations that often (but not exclusively) sponsored these media outlets. This research was complemented by a series of Arabic, French, and English media sources in Lebanon. The findings also draw on participant observation at community and party-run media organizations, and interviews with media producers and local community officials. The project reveals the different senses of national identity that are communicated within spaces of production and consumption due to varying imaginations (even though membership rosters invariably overlap). The idiosyncrasies of this case -- including the consistent (yet variable) locus of the nation, the presence of state and affiliated institutions (without a corresponding state), and their maintenance within the state of Lebanon -- allowed for the examination of community media and the extent to which it is a form of governmentality from below. In addition, the project explores citizen-subjectivity within the intersection of social movement building, activist use of media, the nation, state institutions, and the state.
Daniels, Brian I., U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Preserving Native American Culture by Bureaucratic Means,' supervised by Dr. Robert Preucel
BRIAN I. DANIELS, then a student at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received funding in November 2007 to aid research on 'Preserving Native American Culture by Bureaucratic Means,' supervised by Dr. Robert Preucel. This doctoral dissertation research investigated the relationship between bureaucratic practices in neoliberal, multicultural democracy and the use of indigenous culture to assert rights-based claims. Through a fourteen-month ethnographic and archival study of Klamath River Native American tribes in northern California, this project examined how cultural evidence enables novel forms of political debate and strategic organization. By tracing the venues where indigenous people assert legal claims, it has documented the many ways in which cultural evidence becomes valued. With nine Native American communities, all of whom are engaged in heritage work with different government bureaucracies, the Klamath River watershed provided a field site that was diverse in its institutional and indigenous constituencies and significant for its history of legal challenges to cultural heritage policy. This research demonstrated the central importance of estate probate and land tenure to indigenous consciousness, and identified how documentary paperwork reshapes ways of knowing culture and history, and what it means to possess a specific identity. It also uncovered evidence that some Native Americans in the study area hold active rights to a defunct reservation, which, because of this investigation, has become a focus of future community development and revitalization.
Skjon, Erik Lee, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Lingual-Cultural Region: Its Figures and Grounds in Three Makhuwa Networks,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein
ERIK LEE SKJON, a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'The Lingual-Cultural Region: Its Figures and Grounds in Three Makhuwa Networks,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein. The goal of this third, eight-month phase of a four-year research project in northern Mozambique was to uncover the implicit cultural model mediating ethnolinguistic identity and regional consciousness in Africa. It is hypothesized that some threshold of unity must underlie and motivate the recurrent, empirical facts of: 1) African regionalist sentiment expressed in an ethnic idiom; and 2) areal variation identifiable at the group level, in dialects and languages. Funding supported documentation of one regional network -- spirit possession associations -- through participant observation and extensive structured interviews organized along 15 regional themes. Research was conducted in the capital of Cabo Delgado province and in 13 villages at increasing distances from it in the Shanka-Makhuwa dialect region, and its borders. The data collected has resulted in a digital corpus of approximately 350 hours of audio, 44 hours of video, and over a 1000 photos. These materials will be transcribed and then analyzed for four figure-ground constructs posited to be particularly basic in structuring and integrating referential and pragmatic indexes of ethno-regional experience and imagination: TOPIC (theme-relatum), PATH (trajectory-landmark), LOCUS (center-periphery), and IDENTITY (self-other).
Heuson, Jennifer Lynn, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Sounding Western: Producing National Sensory Heritage through Sound in South Dakota's Black Hills,' supervised by Dr. Marita Sturken
JENNIFER L. HEUSON, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2013 to aid research on 'Sounding Western: Producing National Sensory Heritage through Sound in South Dakota's Black Hills,' supervised by Dr. Marita Sturken. This dissertation explores how and why sound is used to produce national heritage in a popular, yet contested, tourist region in South Dakota: the Black Hills. It argues that the Black Hills is an important geopolitical space not only because of its history of 'native elimination' and resource extraction, but because of how this history is taught, preserved, and celebrated through popular culture and tourist events. Specifically, it examines how sonic experiences in the Black Hills produce the region as an experiential artifact of frontier mythologies that include manifest destiny, rugged individualism, and salvage ethnography. It outlines frontier aurality as crucial conceptual frame for understanding how past conquest shapes both present and future through the subtle modes of sensing enacted at heritage venues and offers both a highly contested example of the 'colonized ear' and an instance of the relationship of this ear to something that could be called 'the colonization of experience.' Through ethnographic observations and recordings, historical and cultural analyses, and interviews with heritage producers, this research hopes to expose the role of aurality in heritage production and in the continued subjugation of native peoples and places.