Oleary, Heather Elaine, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN - To aid research on 'The Disparity of Water Access in Delhi, India,' supervised by Dr. William O. Beeman
HEATHER E. O'LEARY, then a student at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, received funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'The disparity of Water Access in Delhi, India,' supervised by Dr. William O. Beeman. This research explores the disparity of water access in Delhi, India, through the perspective of urban domestic workers. These workers often live in informal 'slum' communities adjacent to the homes of their employers. Like many who struggle to meet minimum consumption requirements for drinking water, domestic workers must also make difficult decisions about using water for the most basic household chores. Yet, many have been exposed to and trained in the aesthetics of modernization, and experience tension over meeting high standards of cleanliness, purity and order with limited resources. Moreover, their active participation as agents of purification in upper-middle class homes distance them from traditional, informal and peer networks of water sourcing, and as a result they are excluded from both formal and informal networks of water access. By elucidating the dynamics of water access, theories from economic anthropology, environmental anthropology, and anthropology of development can be employed to shed light on not only the local water disparity, but can also contribute to a greater understanding of how structures of development, class privilege and resource management are embroiled in socio-political problems of urban water scarcity beyond the context of India.
Djordjevic, Darja, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'The Cancer War(d): Onco-Nationhood in Post-Traumatic Rwanda,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman
Preliminary abstract: In Africa, the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, rapidly expanding industrial and extractive economies, uncontrolled economic growth, environmental and lifestyle changes, and the rising age of populations with better access to medicine have occasioned rising rates of cancer. Rwanda's national cancer program has been hailed as a unique example of how to build clinical oncology into a public healthcare infrastructure. The twelve-month ethnographic study will address three sets of questions: 1. What historical, economic, social, and political factors have shaped the development of the country's cancer program? 2. How do local clinicians and patients experience cancer as a treatable chronic disease? And how is that experience afffected by the development of a national oncology infrastructure and new biomedical technologies? 3. As an instance of the transnational private-public partnerships characteristic of global health interventions in postcolonial Africa, what successes, limitations, and challenges does this cancer program present for envisioning oncology programs elsewhere in the global south? What are the ethical, political, and epistemological stakes involved in different models of cancer care? This project will contribute to a new chapter in medical anthropology, one focused on rising rates of cancer in contemporary Africa. It argues, too, that Rwanda's national oncology initiative is an exercise in nation-building, whereby a sovereign state is deploying a health crisis for purposes of mending the ruptures of a recently traumatized and divided population.
Stewart, Fiona Anne, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Evolution of Shelter: Modelling Human Origins through Field Study of Chimpanzee Nest-Building,' supervised by Dr. William C. McGrew
FIONA STEWART, then a student at University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Evolution of Shelter: Modeling Human Origins through Field Study of Chimpanzee Nest-Building,' supervised by Dr. William McGrew. This study addresses the evolution of shelter -- one of the defining characteristics of humans -- through investigation of its variability and function at its likely origin in the great apes. Throughout a lifetime each great ape builds a nest or bed at least once a day, which is a notable investment of time and effort. This study investigates how nests are made and compares techniques across individuals, lineages, and two populations of chimpanzees, to disentangle environmental and social influences on a ubiquitous material skill. Multivariate analysis will determine structural variation accounted for by environmental or social variables. Many functions of nests have previously been proposed, but no hypothesis-driven, in-depth study of function of these shelters has been conducted. Thus this study compares ecological influences on nest shape, architecture and nest-site selection in relation to micro-habitat variation across these two sites. Through observation of variation in temperature, humidity, and wind speed -- in differentially preferred vegetation types and topographic levels -- and corresponding variation in nest shape and architecture, in addition to a novel experimental approach of sleeping in nests, this study aims to elucidate the hypothesized functions of nest-building (thermoregulation, anti-predator, anti-pathogen) that may have led to the evolution of shelter in the ape lineage.
Hunleth, Jean Marie, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Managing TB: Households, Children, and IIlness in Lusaka, Zambia,' supervised by Dr. Karen Tranberg Hansen
JEAN M. HUNLETH, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, was awarded funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Managing TB: Households, Children, and Illness in Lusaka, Zambia,' supervised by Dr. Karen Tranberg Hansen. This study suggests that, in the age of TB and AIDS, anthropological studies of the household need to consider the impact of illness on household practices. In southern Africa, the prevalence of HIV and TB in adult populations has thrust children into new positions in the household, family, and community. To understand children's shifting positions, twelve months of research was carried out in a low-income area of Lusaka. Twenty-five households (seventeen TB-affected households and eight non-affected households) with children between the ages of 8 and 12 participated in ten months of ethnographic research. The household research drew on observations, interviews, and child-oriented methods such as drawing and child-led tape recording. The data suggests that TB illnesses often turn upside down the conventional order of household relationships-young girls become 'mothers,' adult TB patients say they are 'children,' and boys carry out duties conventionally reserved for women and girls. In other words, assumptions about households, relationships, and children, implicit in research design and survey categories, fall apart in households with TB. Further, the study of children's management of illness provides insight into the multiple ways in which children are reconfiguring the face of childhood, the household, family, and nation.
Hunleth, Jean. 2013. Children's Roles in Tuberculosis Treatment Regimes: Constructing Childhood and Kinship in Urban Zambia. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 27(2):292-311.
Mora, Mariana, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Contentious Governance: Zapatista Indigenous Juntas de Buen Gobierno and State Multiculturalism in Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Charles R. Hale
MARIANA MORA, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded funding in January 2005 to aid research on 'Contentious Governance: Zapatista Indigenous Juntas de Buen Gobierno and State Multiculturalism in Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Charles R. Hale. Dissertation fieldwork, conducted from January 2005 to August 2006, examined the cultural politics of the Zapatista indigenous autonomy movement after a decade of social struggle for indigenous rights claims and for resource redistribution in Chiapas, Mexico. Research sought, firstly, to identify the extent to which Zapatista practices of autonomy effect material practices and indigenous identity formation in ways that differ from those practices of a neoliberal multicultural Mexican state; and secondly, to map how Zapatista cultural politics shape the production of subaltern indigenous political subjectivities. Contrary to the majority of largely text-based research on Zapatista politics, ethnographic data collected suggests that the practices and meaning of Zapatista indigenous autonomy are an effect of current state governing techniques, but also pose a challenge to state forces by generating decolonizing self-making practices. Both state policies targeting Mexican indigenous populations and practices of Zapatista autonomy encourage social actors to take responsibility for insuring their well-being. Similarly, expressions of Zapatista resistance and hegemonic forces struggle over the (re)production of social life, where the political is inseparable from socio-economic and cultural elements. However, research demonstrates that Zapatista political practices destabilize: the current ethnic-racial ordering of the Mexican nation-state; relationships between current capitalist logics and definitions of democracy; and how gendered constructs reproduce dichotomous understandings of indigenous and non-indigenous 'traditions.'
Mora, Mariana. 2007. Zapatista Anticapitalist Politcs and the 'Other Campaign': Learning from the Struggle for Indigenous Rights and Autonomy. Latin American Perspectives 34(2):64-77.
Conley, Robin Helene, U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'Discourses of Death: Language, Juries, and 'Future Danger' in Texas Death Penalty Trials,' supervised by Dr. Alessandro Duranti
ROBIN HELENE CONLEY, then a student at University of California, Los Angeles, California, received a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'Discourses of Death: Language, Juries, and 'Future Danger' in Texas Death Penalty Trials,' supervised by Dr. Alessandro Duranti. This research, conducted from 2009-2010, investigates how Texas death penalty defendants are constructed as 'dangerous' through jurors' and other legal actors' linguistic, cultural, and legal language practices. The fieldwork consisted primarily of observation of and participation in death penalty trials in multiple Texas counties, post-verdict interviews with jurors whose served on these and other death penalty trials, interviews with other state actors involved in the death penalty process, and the collection of a variety of legal documents, such as jury instructions and trial transcripts. The analysis demonstrates how interaction in capital murder trials shapes the construction of defendants and in turn jurors' decision-making trajectories. The dissertation analyzes these encounters against the backdrop of trial participants' ideologies about who capital defendants are and how they should be judged, which are rooted in widely circulating and regionally distinct discourses of justice, crime, and morality. Interactional aspects of the trials, such as emotional encounters between defendants and witnesses and eye-contact between jurors and defendants, often put jurors in intense conflict with these deeply seated ideologies. Comparatively analyzing interactional detail in death penalty trials with post-verdict juror interviews allows an examination of the development of these conflicts and their consequences for death penalty decisions.
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
Preliminary abstract: Cultural life online is marked by the presence of enormous libraries of material, from the archives of newspapers to social network updates to instant-streaming music. Algorithmic filtering systems, implemented in search engines, recommender systems, and other personalization schemes, have emerged as essential complements to this proliferation of items in databases. These filters play an increasingly important role in contouring cultural life online, but their precise workings and the motivations behind their design are often obscure. Through a multi-sited ethnographic study of academic and industry researchers in music recommendation, this study investigates the sociocultural, political, legal, and economic contexts in which filtering algorithms are designed. How do these contexts influence the design of computational systems? How are engineers' theories about taste and users' listening practices operationalized in code? How do designers of algorithms mediate between the popular understandings of musical taste as something ineffably subjective and computation as rigorously objective? By better understanding how filtering algorithms emerge from cultural worlds and treating engineers as human actors with complex motivations, we can grasp how these increasingly influential systems take shape and change over time and more effectively engage in productive critique of their consequences.
Hartley, Charles Wilbur, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Crafting the State: Community, Pottery, and Political Culture in the Luoyang Basin, North China, 3000-1500 BCE,' supervised by Dr. Adam T. Smith
CHARLES W. HARTLEY, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received an award in October 2008 to aid research on 'Crafting the State: Community, Pottery, and Political Culture in the Luoyang Basin, North China, 3000-1500 BCE,' supervised by Dr. Adam T. Smith. This project focused on a larger sample from the Huizui site rather than splitting effort among five sites as originally planned, which created a statistically richer sample. The core of the project and the research questions remain targeted toward: 1) improving our understanding of potting techniques and pottery technology in the Chinese neolithic and early bronze periods; and 2) improving our understanding of the role that seemingly mundane objects like pots play in the social and political development of human society. The change in focus opened up new possibilities for the project. Most importantly, the level of descriptive detail accomplished in terms of technical and stylistic analysis holds promise for a much deeper understanding of, one the one hand, the technological capabilities of this society, and on the other hand, the social and political currents during the periods covered in the study. Each of these possibilities make a significant contribution to the field of Chinese archaeology in particular by improving our understanding of ceramic technology and technical pathways, but also contribute to the field of archaeology in general by improving our understanding of subjective materiality and the interplay between object-constituted society and human-constituted materiality.
Martin, Keir J., U. of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Housebuilding in Rabaul: The Reconstruction of Sociality in a Papua New Guinean City,' supervised by Dr. Karen M.Sykes
KEIR J. MARTIN, while a student at University of Manchester, Manchester, England, received funding in January 2002 to aid research on 'Housebuilding in Rabaul: The Reconstruction of Sociality in a Papua New Guinean City,' supervised by Dr. Karen M. Sykes. The research supported fieldwork to research transactions centered around land and house building at Matupit, Papua New Guinea, as a focus for examining the commodification of Melanesian social life. Research began with a survey of house building at Matupit, and at the Matupit-Sikut resettlement camp where many villagers had moved after Matupit was damaged by volcanic activity in 1994. The survey found out how people had mobilized labor, land, and materials as they rebuilt after the eruption, and asked why so many people had returned to Matupit despite the risks. This survey was followed by in-depth case studies of eight persons building houses during the fieldwork period. This involved continuous re-visiting over a two year period. This enabled a much more detailed analysis of the attitudes towards the transactions outlined in the initial survey. In particular it was possible to examine the extent to which compensating others for their assistance was presented as 'payment' for labor in different contexts. This work was complemented by case studies of a number of land disputes at Matupit and Sikut. As with the house building case studies, this enabled an examination of the different moral perspectives taken towards different relationships or transactions depending upon the person's relationship to others involved in the dispute. For example, the extent to which some people attempted to 'commodify' the customary land transaction of kulia in order to secure their rights over a piece of land was made clear in the context of this research.
Call, Tristan Philip, Vanderbilt U., Nashville, TN - To aid research on 'Migration, Precarious Labor, and Class Formation Among Southern U.S. Farm Workers,' supervised by Dr. Lesley Gill
Preliminary abstract: The expansion of insecure, low-wage labor, termed 'precarious' labor by scholars, has been most dramatic among immigrant workers who leave home to fill the least desirable jobs in the United States. Immigrant workers labor alongside co-workers from distinct linguistic, national, religious, and political backgrounds, which poses a problem for the perennial attempts to create understandings and political alliances across 'difference' and to challenge the continuing degradation of working conditions. Considerable scholarly controversy exists in both the labor and migration literatures about whether migrant workers are 'unorganizable,' or whether their common experiences of migration and dispossession can help spur a new wave of labor organizing. The proposed research will explore this debate. Using ethnographic methods, it will investigate how Latino farmworkers experience the disruption of moving for work between the Tennessee tomato and tobacco industries and the Florida tomato industry over the course of an agricultural season and the extent to which they are able to build alliances among themselves and with other civil society networks that seek to improve working and living conditions.