Kleyna, Mark A., Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Spectacles of the Modern: Technology, Development, and the Imagination of the Indian Nation, 1947-1965,' supervised by Dr. Nicholas B. Dirks
Romano Athila, Adriana, Federal U. of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - To aid research on 'The Enemy Lives Nearby: Violence, Harmony and Sociality among the Rikbaktsa Indians of Southwest Amazonia,' supervised by Dr. Marco A. Teixeira Goncalves
ADRIANA ROMANO ATHILA, while a student at Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, received an award in July 2003, to aid her ethnographic field research focused on the ritual-cosmological universe and sociopolitical organization of the Rikbaktsa and the ways in which these dimensions relate to actual forms of sociality observed among this people, an indigenous society, inhabiting southwestern Amazonia, Brazil, supervised by Dr. Marco Antônio Gonçalves. Athila's research centers on the detailed ethnographic description of one more cultural possibility for the configuration and interconnection of the universes of 'violence' and 'conflict' with 'peacefulness' and 'harmony' within the broad ethnographic spectrum of lowland South American societies. She demonstrated how Rikbaktsa eschatology advocates proximity and probity in social relations, while, perversely, this search for solidarity also inevitably lies at the origin of future instances of predation. The continual and almost inevitable interaction between metaphysical beings - including the dead - and the living is therefore a basic factor in the 'lability' or 'reversibility' of the categories of identity/alterity, solidarity/enmity and even kinship among groups and people. These intersections are, in this way, responsible for reproducing and altering the Rikbaksta society itself, including the dynamic underlying the formation and fission of groups and villages, as well as their territorial distribution.
Palmer, Seth Thomas, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'In the Image of a Wo(man): Queering Human and Spirit Subjects in Northwestern Madagascar,' supervised by Dr. Michael J. Lambek
Preliminary abstract: While the Malagasy nation-state struggles to recover from a series of political crises, non-governmental intervention in the sexual health of MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) increases. Set against this ethnographic background, this dissertation project aims to understand how same-sex desiring and gender-variant persons, and their possessing spirits, grapple with their gendered and sexualized alterity. By bringing two fields of study into conversation - spirit possession studies and queer studies - this research examines how individuals, both human and spirit, work through and against the idioms provided by tromba spirit possession and the transnational discourses of MSM and LGBTIQ identity-based activism. Although the majority of spirit mediums in northwestern Madagascar are female, many male spirit mediums in this region are same-sex desiring, and often possessed by several particular spirits. Likewise, queer male mediums participate in MSM activist networks, thus implicating spirit possession in MSM activism/public health initiatives and vice versa. The experiences of male and female-bodied interlocutors of various ages in a rural town along the Betsiboka river and the coastal city of Mahajanga will be analyzed to reveal how human and spirit interlocutors, and their accompanying life stories, secret lexicons, and identitarian categories flow between seemingly disparate spaces.
Echenique, Ester, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Style, Ideology, and Empire: Rethinking Materiality in the Southern Inka Expansion,' supervised by Dr. David Killick
Preliminary abstract: While scholars have emphasized administrative architecture and spatial organization in studies of Inka state control of conquered provinces, portable objects have also played a key role in legitimating Inka state ideology. Drawing on theories of ideology and materiality, this research asks how Inka imperialism was materialized in portable objects by examining how the Inka used and manipulated provincial ceramic styles. The decorated and stylistically distinct Yavi-Chicha ceramics from the Chicha region (Río Grande de San Juan Basin in the Bolivia-Argentina border), widely distributed in the Circumpuna region (the tri-border region of S Bolivia, NW Argentina, and N Chile), provides the ideal subject for this inquiry. This proposed project will examine ceramics from the core Chicha region and from two key areas of circulation and interaction, the Quebrada de Humahuaca in Argentina and the Loa/San Pedro de Atacama region in Chile, where the Inka transformed local societies. Technological styles and the life-history of Yavi-Chicha ceramics will be investigated with the purpose of understanding people-object interactions, in this case the role of material objects in producing and legitimating state power and ideologies. Variation and similarities of low and high visibility technological and compositional attributes documented through macroscopic and compositional analyses will be used to infer technological choices at all levels of manufacturing processes and will serve as indicators of production groups, geographic distribution, interaction networks, and the relationship between local knowledge and state power.
Sykes, Jim, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'A 'Space' for Sound: Sacred Music, Sentiment, and the Politics of Place in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Philip V. Bohlman
JIM SYKES, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'A 'Space' for Sound: Sacred Music, Sentiment, and the Politics of Place in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Philip V. Bohlman. Sri Lanka has become infamous around the world as a site of 'ethnic conflict,' on account of the island's 25-year civil war between the Sinhala-led government and the Tamil-led Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L TIE). One outcome of the conflict is the mainstreaming of ethnonationalist ideologies of cultural separation, which view the island's Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, and other populations as having thoroughly distinct cultural histories. This dissertation contests such an overly ethnicized reading of Sri Lankan cultural history, through the lens of musical practices. Rather than focus on one ethnic group and 'its' music, the project locates music as a site of contestation between two radically alternate narratives of Sri Lankan social relations: on the one hand, a history of ethnic division, chauvinism, and violence; on the other, an underrepresented history of tolerance, borrowing, and mixing. Drawing on fieldwork with musicians in two locations (one majority Sinhala, the other majority Tamil) and focusing on traditional drumming (yak hera, maththalam), the project explores music's entanglements with personhood, modernity, trauma, and historical narrative from a comparative perspective, in order to articulate a discourse on Sri Lankan communities that is regional, rather than ethnic or linguistic, in scope.
Sykes, Jim. 2013. Culture as Freedom: Musical 'Liberation' in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Ethnomusicology 57(3):485-517.
Jarrin, Alvaro Esteban, Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on ''The Right to Beauty': Cosmetic Citizenship and Medical Modernity in Brazil,' supervised by Dr. Anne Allison
ALVARA ESTEBAN JARRIN, then a student at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'The Right to Beauty: Cosmetic Citizenship and Medical Modernity in Brazil,' supervised by Dr. Anne Allison. This research project examines the construction of beauty in Brazil as a product of the complex race, class and gender inequalities that the country has faced in the past and still faces today. Beauty is a body marker believed to have the power to both stabilize racial and class differences (by making that difference visible to the naked eye) and to make social mobility possible (by providing economic and social opportunities to those who 'achieve' beauty through various means -- particularly plastic surgery). The grantee contrasts the distinct ways in which the body is understood in different social classes, and compare the motives for seeking out plastic surgery among patients in private clinics and patients in public hospitals. The medical world itself has very different approaches to patients in the private and the public health sectors, since the latter is considered the perfect setting for residents to practice and to develop new surgical techniques. The research argues that risk involved in these surgeries is continuously downplayed by medical discourse and by the media, which instead glorifies the transformations achieved through surgery as narratives of social uplift.
Nado, Kristin Lynn, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Dietary Practices, Socioeconomic Status, and Social Mobility at Teotihuacan, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Jane Ellen Buikstra
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates social mobility in archaic states through a contextualized program of isotopic research at the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, Mexico. I will analyze dietary isotope ratios within bone and tooth samples from 130 individuals of relatively well-known socioeconomic status buried throughout the city 1) to define the dietary correlates of wealth at Teotihuacan, 2) to identify individuals displaying lifetime dietary changes consistent with changes in socioeconomic status, and 3) to examine patterns in the social categories represented among socially mobile individuals. Though many traditional archaeological models either ignore social mobility or assume that boundaries between socioeconomic strata within archaic states were impermeable, the frequency of social mobility within ancient states has never been systematically evaluated using archaeological data. By using lifetime dietary indicators to develop a new methodological approach that will allow us to identify socially mobile individuals in the archaeological record, I will provide a road map for comparative studies of social mobility within archaic states. The results of this research will also highlight the applicability of archaeological information to present-day understandings of social mobility by investigating when and under what conditions social characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, or occupation impact individuals' opportunities for upward social mobility.
Dahl, Bianca Jane, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Transforming Children: The Contested Socialization of Orphaned Youth in Contemporary Botswana,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer Cole
BIANCA JANE DAHL, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Transforming Children: The Contested Socialization of Orphaned Youth in Contemporary Botswana,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer Cole. In the wake of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Botswana, where over a third of adults are HIV positive, an entirely new population group has captured the national imagination: orphaned children. Viewed as innocent and vulnerable, yet dangerous and outside the moderating reach of the 'normal' Tswana family, the upbringing of orphans has taken on incredibly high stakes. This research establishes how and why orphans have become a flashpoint for dramatic changes occurring across Botswana in the last 15 years. In many ways, the very existence of supplemental orphan care programs counteracts the important Tswana belief that childrearing is the exclusive domain of the extended family. By examining micro-level patterns of interaction between orphans and the adults involved in their upbringing, this project traces how many orphan care organizations encourage children toward behaviors that are incompatible with Tswana moral values. This research then connects those socialization patterns to macro-level national discourse about the dissolution of kinship in Botswana. Materially empowered yet socially estranged, orphans are simultaneously the product and cause of the behind-the-scenes social revolution occurring in Botswana today. Instead of being 'left behind' in the wake of HIV/AIDS, this research establishes how orphans are at the vanguard of social change.
Shubowitz, Devorah, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'The Effects of Liberal Jewish Women's Historically Newfound Sacred Text Study,' supervised by Dr. Sara Friedman
DEVORAH SHUBOWITZ, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'The Effects of Liberal Jewish Women's Historically Newfound Sacred Text Study,' supervised by Dr. Sara Friedman. Since the 1970s feminist movement and over the past forty years, gender egalitarian religious Jewish communities have flourished in the United States. In these communities, women study sacred texts and perform rituals that were historically male-only practices. Currently, in New York, women fill egalitarian rabbinic schools, adult education programs, and yeshivas to study male-authored religious law and hermeneutical texts. These biblical, talmudic, and Jewish legal writings describe, sexualize, and analogize women within moral-legal-godly frameworks as conceived by generations of males over thousands of years. Egalitarian institutions widely accept the male dominance of the texts as a historical reality while positioning the same texts and rituals as ideal 'gender-neutral' standards, instructing men and women alike to propel this canon into contemporary relevance. My project analyzes egalitarian interpretive practices in different educational contexts and women's interpretive processes in their study and daily lives. Understanding women's interpretive tensions and norms reveals how and why four generations of women who identify with liberal values of free choice, equal opportunity, and personal meaning shape their voices, embodiments, politics, relationships, and selves in dialogue with a canon that assumes and prescribes male dominance in religious, legal, and social life. Placing women's sacred text study in the context of the 1970s Jewish feminists' call for women's equal access to male religious practice reveals the 'gender trouble' that results from welding ideologies of unimpeded interpretive freedom with ideologies that assign a male-authored religious canon the status to speak for all.
Henry, Eric, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Speaking English in China: Second Language Learning and the Construction of Cosmopolitan Identities,' supervised by Dr. P. Steven Sangren
ERIC HENRY, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, received a grant in January 2005 to aid research on 'Speaking English in China: Second Language Learning and the Construction of Cosmopolitan Identities,' supervised by Dr. P. Steven Sangren. One question that seems to aggravate foreign English teachers and linguists in China is why educational institutions and students seem uninterested in a 'proper' way to teach English. Their resistance has been attributed to everything from Confucianism to plain stubbornness. The grantee conducted a year of fieldwork in the northeastern city of Shenyang to examine the social and cultural contexts in which English-language learning takes place, and the structures and processes in which English is embedded in Chinese society. In other words, the research attempts to redirect the question from 'Why do English learners not listen to experts?' to 'What are Chinese learners attempting to accomplish through their study of English?' Data gathered through interviews with language learners, school administrators, teachers, and other stakeholders located English-language learning within a set of self-fashioning technologies that are designed to advance alternative notions of identity in a globalizing medium of social relations. Knowledge of English allowed proficient learners to participate as dominant partners in what Bourdieu has called a 'language market.' The research also served to highlight affinities between the processes of English-language learning and specific local concerns, such as the status of the local dialect and fears of being cheated in relations with others.