Jamison, Kelda, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Hydraulic Interventions: The Making of a Technopolitical Landscape in Southeast Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal
KELDA JAMISON, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in June 2005 to aid research on 'Hydraulic Interventions: The Making of a Technopolitical Landscape in Southeast Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal. Research was conducted in Ankara, Turkey, and several cities in the southeast of the country. The research focused on the government ministry charged with coordinating the Southeastern Anatolia Project, a hydrodevelopment project of monumental scale, calling for 22 dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, widespread irrigation networks, and a host of other ambitious social, economic, and engineering initiatives. During the tenure of the Wenner-Gren funded research, the researcher met with a variety of planners and technocrats who work at this ministry, conducted both formal and informal interviews, and analyzed official reports, surveys, and conference volumes, in order to analyze the ways 'society' emerges as a field of technocratic intervention. In addition to working with 'official' development planners, ethnographic research was conducted with other, non-governmental actors who are also deeply involved in 'developing' the sociopolitical landscape of the region, and for whom hydraulic intervention figures in contested ways with political transformation. Distinctions between 'technical' transformations and 'social' transformations form the battleground for debates about the legitimacy of different forms of state presence in this turbulent region. The circuits of intervention that crosscut the region expose the very real struggles and fractures that such 'development integration' process constitutes. The tenuousness of integration formed the unspoken backdrop to discussions of regional development, constituting the standard for judging success or failure. As the research continues, the researcher will further investigate the spaces of silence and erasure that lie at the heart of state intervention in this region, exploring the topics rendered visible and invisible by bureaucratic discourses of technopolitical progress.
Ahlin, Brinton R., New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Hydraulic Civilization: Water, Shrines, and States in Central Asia,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Grant
Preliminary abstract: The transformation of water into cotton, electricity, and a running tap via large-scale infrastructure systems is fundamental to local understandings of the state in Central Asia. This research ethnographically investigates the relationship between these transformative capacities of water infrastructure and the role of water in shaping personal lives at a ritual pilgrimage site and natural spring in southern Tajikistan. I focus on these otherworldly sites of transformation as a way of rethinking conventional accounts of infrastructure that privilege its technical and material qualities while inadvertently reproducing understandings of it as a this-worldly object. Central to this endeavor is a concern with the alternative ways in which knowledge about infrastructure is produced across different contexts. My hypothesis is that the capacities of holy water at the shrine to enact a diverse range of Central Asian dreams for fertility, prosperity, or tranquility provide a powerful parallel lens through which many Tajiks make sense of the complex social lives of Central Asian states.
Morehart, Christopher T., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Agricultural Landscapes and Political Economy at Xaltocan, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth M. Brumfiel
CHRISTOPHER T. MOREHART, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Agricultural Landscapes and Political Economy at Xaltocan, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth M. Brumfiel. Understanding the intersection between farming households, the state, and intermediate social relationships is central to the anthropological and archaeological study of agriculture. This project examined these issues by examining the creation, persistence, and decline of chinampa agriculture at Xaltocan, Mexico. Drawing on multiple data sources, this work articulated chinampa farming with the configurations of political, economic, social, demographic, and ecological factors that shaped the trajectory of this landscape. Xaltocan was a kingdom that developed in the Early and Middle Postclassic periods in central Mexico. By the Late Postclassic period, however, Xaltocan was conquered and its status as an independent political center had collapsed. Archaeological data indicate that intensive agriculture was contemporaneous with the political independence of Xaltocan. When Xaltocan's political system collapsed, however, chinampa farming was abandoned. This pattern does not indicate unequivocally that the state controlled agriculture but does suggest that farmers and their cooperative relationships were conditioned by its political stability. Investigations at a shrine in the farming system, by contrast, revealed ritual continuity despite dramatic social, political, and cultural change. This shrine helps reveal how ritual was integrated into changing historical circumstances as well as how people may have re-interpreted the pre-existing landscape.
Morehart, Christopher T. 2012. What if the Aztec Empire Never Existed? The Prerequisites of Empire and the Politics of Plausible Alternative Histories. American Anthropologist 114(2):267-281.
Morehart, Christopher T., Abigail Meza Peñaloza, Carlos Serrano Sánchez, et al. 2012. Human Sacrifice during the Epiclassic Period in the Northern Basin of Mexico. Latin American Antiquity 23(4):426-448.
de Vries, Daniel H., U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid research on 'Historical Ecology and Cultures of Temporal Reference Making: A North Carolina Floodplain Restoration Case Study,' supervised by Dr. Carole L. Crumley
Sawyer, Kelley Paulette, U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM - To aid research on 'Philadelphia's Story: Gay Tourism and Shifting Citizenry in the Nation's 'Freedom Capital',' supervised by Dr. Louise Lamphere
KELLEY SAWYER, then a student at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Philadelphia's Story: Gay Tourism and Shifting Citizenry in the Nation's 'Freedom Capital,'' supervised by Dr. Louise Lamphere. Research focused on the implications of Philadelphia's state-supported gay tourism marketing campaign, 'Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay,' with respect to residents' and visitors' impressions of the city and their experiences of inclusion within its Gayborhood. Research findings indicate that the gay tourism campaign functioned not simply as an invitation for lesbian and gay travelers to visit Philadelphia and spend their money; it inadvertently marked the city and its 'Gayborhood' as safe and welcoming for an influx of moneyed, white, straight residents. More broadly, the campaign worked in concert with the city's millennial gentrification and with national LGBT political gains to 'contemporize' and whiten the city through the thematics of history and diversity.
Hendy, Katherine Marie, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Drugs on Trial: Science, Bureaucracy and Activism in Clinical Trial Research with Psychedelic Drugs,' supervised by Dr. Corinne Hayden
KATHERINE HENDY, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, was awarded funding in November 2010 to aid research on 'Drugs on Trial: Science, Bureaucracy and Activism in Clinical Trial Research with Psychedelic Drugs,' supervised by Dr. Corinne Hayden. The grantee undertook research with Northern California drug activists and researchers who have been working to legalize psychedelic drugs for use in psychotherapeutic settings. In contrast to other legalization efforts that have focused on state-based legislation or civil rights lawsuits, this movement organizes and funds clinical trials, which study the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics as a gateway to federal legalization as prescription pharmaceuticals. The research ethnographically tracked how the aspirations for the legalization of psychedelics combined with the on-the-ground practice of clinical trial research. The dissertation explores how the concerns of various regulatory agencies with issues of safety and drug diversion shape the form and practice of clinical trial research and consequently the kinds of pharmaceutical knowledge that emerge therefrom. Given that clinical trials are used to produce scientific research and to regulate the pharmaceutical industry, this dissertation will argue that they provide an important point of entry into the contemporary relationship between science and politics in the United States.
Yu, Xiao J., York U., Toronto, ON, Canada - To aid research on 'The Ethnic Law and the Making of Ethnic Identities in China,' supervised by Dr. Susan G. Drummond
XIAO YU, then a student at York University, Toronto, Canada, received funding in June 2005 to aid research on 'The Ethnic Law and the Making of Ethnic Identities in China,' supervised by Dr. Susan G. Drummond. This research contributes a legal ethnography of the social life of China's minzu law, with a focus on its role in identity making. Based on the fieldwork in Xiangxi, a multi-ethnic hinterland of South-central China, it provides a remedy to contemporary writings of China's ethnicities that pay little heed to the role of the minzu law in ethnicities. It also challenges the legal Orientalist discourse that simplistically depicts the Chinese minzu law as imposed by the State as a sham or merely 'law on paper' that is too impotent to have any power. The dissertation demonstrates that legibility and balancing act as teleologies were consistently invoked in the minzu law applications, while two strategies -- ethnicization of the regional, and regionalization of the ethnic -- were constantly embedded in the processes of negotiating identities. To the extent that local ethnoscape and ethnic identities were profoundly transformed by the law's applications in Xiangxi and elsewhere in China, it argues that such a seemingly impotent law has in fact made undeniable important socio-legal deeds, which in turn has made the law itself into a self-referencing, autopoietic legal subsystem that mandates to standardize the country's ethnicities and to perpetuate its legally sanctioned ethnic identities.
Mateescu, Oana M., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Memory, Proof, and Persuasion: Re-Creating Communal Ownership in Postsocialist Romania,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery
OANA M. MATEESCU, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded a grant in May 2005 to aid research on 'Memory, Proof, and Persuasion: Re-Creating Communal Ownership in Postsocialist Romania,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery. Through archival research, interviews, and participant observation, this project studied four key historical events for the repertoire of knowledge practices they provide to current villagers of Vrancea region (Romania) involved in the reconstitution of communal ownership over forests. These are the successful reclaiming of forests in an 1816 lawsuit, the 1910 organization of forests according to the Forestry Code, the emergence of anthropology as a discipline in Romania through the study of Vrancea's communal ownership in the late 1920's and the failed uprising of hundreds of villagers upon the nationalization of forests in 1950. These events shape disputes over the present meaning of communal ownership and they inform the particular forms of claim making (lawsuits, complaints, humble appeals, the accumulation of evidence, and insurgency) villagers have at their disposal. Last, but not least, they serve as unique confirmations of the possibility for critique and effective intervention. Since 1816, proof-oriented actions such as the quest for documents, their secret keeping, forgery, loss, sale or destruction become inseparable from what it means to own the forests in Vrancea. The complex histories of such evidentiary objects as they shape ownership conflicts throughout the 20th century and come to haunt the current desires and strategies of villagers are central to this inquiry into the problematic of ownership, time, evidence and credibility.
Rinck, Jacob Emanuel, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Political Competition in Nepal's Tarai: Between Regionalism, Labor Migration, and Patronage,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan
Preliminary abstract: How does patronage-based politics operate in 21st century state formation? This study of everyday politics in southern Nepal asks how patronage as cultural form is refashioned in its engagement with changing economic opportunities, even as renewed development efforts preach its end. Remittances from short-term labor migration to Malaysia and the Gulf now account for close to a third of Nepal's GDP. Most of the migrants are from rural backgrounds, where until recently unequal agrarian relations and elite control over developmental resources formed the basis for political authority, even after Nepal's democratic transition in 1990. How do the new flows of money change the ways in which people imagine and engage these modes of politics, and how do political elites respond? This project uses the competition between established political elites and their lower class, lower-caste challengers as empirical ground for pursuing this question. During 18 months of multi-sited ethnographic research between Kathmandu and a district in the southern plains, I will trace how national level politicians, their constituents, and other political actors, including aid donors and development projects, connect through their historically informed aspirations and everyday politics. Thus, my study foregrounds intertwined processes of contesting meanings and making alliances within, across, and against formal state institutions. Through this anthropology of politics, it clarifies the relationship between everyday politics, contending modernities, and the imagination of material resources, and conceptualizes state formation as continuous process of mutual disruptions.