Mykytyn, Courtney E., U. of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'Executing Aging: An Ethnography of Anti-Aging Medicine,' supervised by Dr. Cheryl Mattingly
COURTNEY E. MYKYTYN, while a student at University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, received funding in December 2002 to aid research on 'Executing Aging: An Ethnography of Anti-Aging Medicine,' supervised by Dr. Cheryl Mattingly. The project examines the growth and development of the anti-aging medicine movement in the United States. Focusing on questions of the movement's rationale and consequences, this study attends to the reframing of aging in light of new biotechnological advances and shifts in scientific objectives that speak to goals of optimization of health and bodily experience. Studying anti-aging medicine has involved ethnographic interviews with medical practitioners of anti-aging, scientists of aging, activists, and opponents. Another integral facet of this research entailed observations in anti-aging clinics and attendance at conferences hosted by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and the Gerontological Society of America and locally sponsored seminars and focus groups. The project involved studying the scores of publications - both popular and scientific - and analyzing websites and list-serves devoted to anti-aging medicine. As the President's
Council on Bioethics involved itself with this topic, this research paid particular attention to the ways in which aging and anti-aging medicines were framed in federal discourse. Additionally, a professional genealogy database was designed to track individuals, publications, companies, conferences, websites, organizations and clinics and their interrelations. Analyzing how these varying 'actors' in the anti-aging medicine movement are connected, this genealogy refines traditional anthropological kinship work to apply it to complex socio-scientific movements. Shaping the way life and humanity are understood and experienced, an anti-aging medicine challenges the framework of nature and scientific objectives and 'Executing Aging ' has explored the nuances and contours of this movement at a particularly controversial and foundational moment.
Mykytyn, Courtney Everts. 2005. Anti-Aging Medicine: A Patient/Practitioner Movement to Redefine Aging. Social
Science & Medicine 62:643-653.
Mykytyn, Courtney Everts. 2006. Anti-Aging Medicine: Predictions, Moral Obligations, and Biomedical
Intervention. Anthropological Quarterly 79(11): 5-31.
Mykytyn, Courtney Everts. 2006. Contentious Terminology and Complicated Cartography of Anti-Aging Medicine.
Coleman, Leo C., Princeton U., Princeton, NJ - To aid research on 'Private Power: The Privatization of Electricity and Citizenship in Delhi, India,' supervised by Dr. Carol J. Greenhouse
LEO CHARLES COLEMAN, then a student at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, was awarded a grant in April 2005 to aid research on 'Private Power: The Privatization of Electricty and Citizenship in Delhi, India,' supervised by Dr. Carol J. Greenhouse. This project studied urban citizenship and the political and social consequences of privatization in Delhi, India, with an ethnographic focus on consumer and citizen mobilizations in response to the partial privatization of electricity provision in 2002. The research reveals the internal strains and external constraints on the development of a self-described 'middle-class' in Delhi today, and describes the recent emergence in Delhi of class-homogenous territorially- and residentially-based political groups. Alongside national transformations in economic governance, novel practices of citizenship and urban inclusion and exclusion have emerged in Delhi, expressed in mobilizations for better electricity service and fairer rates, and citizen demands for slum clearance, urban renewal, and expansion of urban services. The mobilizations studied agitated for local control of 'public' goods and were informed by an ideology of consumer-citizenship which equates democracy with transparency, and the latter with local territorial sovereignty. These are the unexpected consequences of a privatization process deeply imbued with the neo-liberal orthodoxy of absolute individual autonomy, but which has produced, ironically, new territorial collectivities. Through joint archival and ethnographic research, the project also traces the continued, albeit submerged, relevance for political action of long-standing foci of communal identification and urban division, including citizenship and caste.
Smith, Lindsay A., Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Subversive Genes: DNA Identification and Human Rights in Argentina,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman
LINDSAY A. SMITH, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Subversive Genes: DNA Identification and Human Rights in Argentina,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman. This project examined DNA identification technologies and their relationship to political, social and familial reconstitution in post-dictatorship Argentina. The fieldwork focused on two groups: one organized around the recovery of their kidnapped grandchildren and the other organized around the identification of the bodies of the 30,000 disappeared. Through participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and archival research comparing these seemingly similar movements, which nonetheless constitute separate social movements and use different technological approaches, the grantee explored the coproduction of scientific and political orders in the midst of a seemingly endless process of 'transitional' justice. Initial findings document the flexible social meanings of DNA technologies, especially how the meanings of genetic tests are constructed and reconfigured as they travel between multiple sites of discourse and practice, connecting scientists in the U.S. and Argentina, radicalized mothers in Latin America, international human rights NGOs, kidnapped children, and even the other-worldly disappeared. This research suggests that forensic DNA identification technologies have emerged as core sites of identity formation both for individuals and families affected by the terror of the dictatorship but also for the Argentine nation-state as it tries to reckon with the legacies of repression.
Haug, Jordan Ross, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Finding Hope in a Time of Decline: After Mine Closure in Misima, Papua New Guinea,' supervised by Dr. Rupert Stasch
Preliminary abstract: In places where extractive industries have left an indelible mark, eroding infrastructures and disappearing economic opportunities following project closures often contribute to crises of hope. Hope for future equality with people in wealthier parts of the world seems no longer practical. Through ethnographic research in Misima, Papua New Guinea, this project seeks to answer the pressing question of how people in these communities hope for greater equality in times of dramatic geopolitical and economic decline. In 2004, the small island of Misima became the site of one of the most significant industrial mine closures in Oceania. Since that time, the possibilities for the island's geopolitical, infrastructural, and economic advancement have dramatically declined. In spite of this foreclosure of opportunity and increased isolation, many Misimans hope for better futures where they are able to obtain geopolitical, infrastructural, and economic equality with the rest of the globalized world. Through moral projects like education, cooperative fund raising, and denominationalism, Misimans infuse presently persistent inequalities with the possibility of greater equality. I hypothesize that these moral projects of cultivating hope subvert the inevitability of inequality in favor of egalitarian ideals that transcend the realm of the possible.
McCabe, Collin Michael, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Unwelcome Guests: Human-rodent Cohabitation and its Implications for Disease Transfer in Sedentary Agricultural Populations,' supervised by Dr. Richard Wrangham
Preliminary abstract: Rodents have inhabited human settlements since at least the advent of agriculture and sedentary lifestyles. This close contact between humans and rodents has been, and still is, a source of many emerging zoonotic diseases. However, little is known about what drives species to commensal lifestyles, and even less is known about whether these commensal species are more likely than non-commensal rodents to carry novel zoonotic pathogens. The aim of this study is to investigate certain behavioral and ecological factors that favor commensal living and pathogen burdens in East African rodents. I hypothesize that more exploratory rodent species with broader diets will more likely be commensal, and will likely have higher pathogen burdens. I plan to live-trap rodents in central Kenya from a community of 25 wild species, in both recently settled human agricultural villages and adjacent, undisturbed habitats to determine each species' level of commensality and the features of these wild rodents that favor commensal living. I will also obtain biological samples from these rodents to determine the zoonotic pathogen burdens. By enriching knowledge of rodent disease ecology, this project will provide data to hone or even transform our understanding of selective pressures of zoonotic pathogens on early agriculturalists.
Burdick, Christa Marie, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'Imagining a New Alsace: The Branding of Place and the Production of Ethnolinguistic Identity,' supervised by Dr. Jacqueline L. Urla
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates the ways in which place branding initiatives constitute important sites for the contemporary reconfiguration of nations, cultures and languages along the lines of global market imperatives. Focusing on a particularly fraught instance of region branding in Alsace, France, this project traces the ways in which Alsatian linguistic difference is rearticulated as profitable within broader discourses of place-based economic distinction. I will track the ways 'Alsatianness' is produced by regional branders for the specific brand form, and how efforts to produce 'Alsatianness' recruit Alsatian dialect to index and perform authenticity. Alsace however, as a region that changed hands between France and Germany four times within two hundred years, has long been the site of contested linguistic and national identification. Today, Alsace remains a region that defies identification along national lines, thus complicating the brand process that seeks to elicit consumable images and identities. Thus, this project also seeks to understand how emergent economic valuations of linguistic difference confront, coexist or compete with long-standing configurations of language and the nation. Employing methods of participant observation, interviews and focus groups with brand custodians and Alsatian individuals, I will trace the production, implementation and circulation of the brand to understand where and how Alsatian individuals are themselves interpellated to embody the regional brand identity, for as branding literature shows, place brands must be 'lived' to be successful (Aronczyk 2013).
Santillan, Diana, George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Intercultural Mediations: Using Radio to Promote Reproductive Health and Gender Equity in the Peruvian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Catherine Jean Allen
DIANA SANTILLAN, then a student at George Washington University, Washington, DC, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Intercultural Mediations: Using Radio to Promote Reproductive Health and Gender Equity in the Peruvian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Catherine Jean Allen. The research project analyzes how a non-governmental organization (NGO) in the Peruvian Amazon constructs messages to promote gender equity and reproductive health, and how river community members interpret these messages and negotiate them with indigenous understandings of gender, health, and reproduction. I focus on: 1) the production of the 'Bienvenida Salud' radio program created by Minga Peru, an NGO that works in the Amazonian department of Loreto; and 2) the reception of the radio program among members of a Cocama native community located on the Marafion river in Loreto. Research methods include participant-observation, in-depth interviews, and analysis of radio program recordings. This case study examines the complexity of intercultural encounters from a gender perspective, analyzing how members of Amazonian communities rework gendered worldviews and lifeways, as they enter into dialogue with a globally circulating 'rights' discourse. The project focuses on the micro-processes of social change and cultural syncretism that take place as members of rural communities encounter new ideological and material realities, and as they incorporate new gender practices and ideas into their cultural repertoires.
Grabiner Keinan, Adi, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Producing Change on the Ground: Israeli Leftist Groups against the Occupation,' supervised by Dr. Magnus Fiskesjo
ADI GRABINER KEINAN, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, received a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Producing Change on the Ground: Israeli Leftist Groups against the Occupation,' supervised by Dr. Magnus Fiskesjo. In the last few years, several Israeli leftist groups opposing Israel's occupation in the Palestinian Territories have introduced new forms of protest, aiming to address rapid transformations that enable Israel's regime of occupation. Their members oppose the perception of the occupation as a merely political issue that should be solved through negotiations, and attempt to challenge both the conditions and the effects of the occupation on the ground. Focusing on an ongoing process of protest in East Jerusalem, in which different political movements and activists took part, this study seeks to understand the dialectical relationships between human agency, subjectivity, and socio-cultural structures. Engaging with studies of social movements, broader debates on agency and subjectivity, and scholarship on state formation processes, the first line of inquiry of this research investigates the conditions produced within the framework of the occupation that enable such activism and the forms of agency and subjectivity associated with it; the second focuses on the complex, sometimes contradicting, effects of these forms of activism. Data collected through ethnographic, online, and archival research has the capacity to open new ways for understanding the relationship between political agency, subjectivity, and socio-cultural frameworks, in the case of Israel, and beyond.
Listman, Jennifer Beth, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Genetic Marker Bias Effects on Inferences of Human Evolutionary History,' supervised by Dr. Todd Richard Disotell
JENNIFER LISTMAN, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Genetic Marker Bias Effects on Inferences of Human Evolutionary History,' supervised by Dr. Todd Disotell. Saliva samples were collected from individuals from five ethnic minorities (Akha, Lisu, Lahu, Hmong, and Karen), commonly referred to as Hill Tribes, residing in Northern Thailand. DNA from these samples -- as well as from European American, African American, Thai, and Chinese populations, which were already available -- was used to collect population genetic data based on 32 unlinked autosomal microsatellite markers. Evaluation of these data describe genetic variation within and between these populations and show that the amount and type of information provided by microsatellite markers is, in part, related to the histories of the populations under study. The results demonstrate a lack of Asian intracontinental genetic homogeneity detectable with relatively few markers. The results indicate that forensic panels -- which consist of tetranucleotide markers, possibly due to homoplasy -- are not reliable for phylogenetic analysis of human populations. Hmong were found to be the most genetically distinct of the Hill Tribes and are the most linguistically distinct of all the Asian populations sampled as well as the most traditionally resistant to assimilation. Their linguistic and behavioral barriers are effectively influencing mating behavior and thus, genetic distance between Hmong and their neighbors.
Listman, J.B., R.T. Malison, K. Sanichwankul, et al. 2010. Southeast Asian Origins of Five Hill Tribe Populations and Correlation of Genetic to Linguistic Relationships Inferred with Genome-wide SNP Data. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 144(2):300-308.
Beliaev, Alexandre B., U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Specters of Soviet Affinity: Political Participation Among Latvian Noncitizens,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence Mark Cohen
ALEXANDRE BELIAEV, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, was awarded a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'Specters of Soviet Affinity: Political Participation among Latvian Noncitizens,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence M. Cohen. Latvia's 'noncitizens' are mostly ethnic Russians who settled in Latvia during the Soviet period. Following the restoration of Latvian independence, they did not commit to undergoing Latvian naturalization process. This research investigated: 1) how noncitizenship has come to be seen as enabling of certain political practices; and 2) how this set of practices has facilitated a polity that, while being coincident and maintained by the nation-state, has not been subsumed by it. This investigation yielded three conclusions. First, the pursuit of minority rights -- among them, the right to citizenship without undergoing naturalization -- is increasingly seen as non-political. Second, the notion of 'culture' implicit in the discourse on 'national minorities' does not correspond to the notion of 'cultured life,' which is seen as necessary for politics. Third, politics is increasingly understood in the idiom of 'coalition' rather than 'contestation.' The emergence of 'coalition' as a central political idiom is not a consequence of lessening of ethnic tensions, but rather a consequence of a new demarcation of privateIpublic spheres.