Mahajan, Nidhi Arun, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Merchants of Mombasa and the Making of a Shadow Economy,' supervised by Dr. Viranjini Munasinghe
NIDHI A. MAHAJAN, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, received funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Merchants of Mombasa and the Making of a Shadow Economy,' supervised by Dr. Viranjini Munasinghe. This project focuses on the articulation of Indian Ocean trade networks on the East African coast, the Kenyan nation-state and the international order. Since the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam by Al-Qaeda, the Swahili coast of Kenya has become a flashpoint for national and international security. These security concerns are ultimately linked to an anxiety over the coast's long history of trade in the Indian Ocean. This research analyzes attempts to make Indian Ocean trade networks in East Africa legible to state power and the response of merchants, sailors, and residents who rework these networks in the shadow economy, suggesting that this uneasy articulation between these trade networks and the state has led to increasing insecurity for both government and coastal residents.
Rogers, Juliette R., Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'The Politics and Power of Food: Norman Cheese, French Identity, and the Creation of 'Europeans',' supervised by Dr. David I. Kertzer
JULIETTE R. ROGERS, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, received funding in May 2004 to aid research on 'The Politics and Power of Food: Norman Cheese, French Identity, and the Creation of 'Europeans',' supervised by Dr. David I. Kertzer. Research was conducted between September 2004 and August 2005, based in Normandy, France. The objectives were to understand the functioning of political influence of a nationally recognized regional industry in the evolving European context, and to assess the extent to which European Union policy bore on the regional, national, or European self-identification of actors in that industry. Fieldwork consisted of participant observation and interviews with people active in the cheese industry of the region (which produces name-controlled AOC Livarot, Camembert de Normandie, and Pont-l'Eveque cheeses) including dairy farmers, cheesemakers, agricultural consultants, government inspectors and functionaries, elected officials, agricultural and cheese unions, and personally invested private citizens. Extending the enquiry to ascertain French and European levels of influence, officials and dairy industry employees in Paris and Brussels contributed new perspectives on motives for policy and regulatory change and how they are translated from one level to the next. Unsurprisingly, the concerns, stakes, goals, and restraints changed at each step of policy (and cheese) production, revealing the complexity of agricultural, health, and cultural policy as it passes from the local to regional, national, European, and international scales. Important issues to emerge from fieldwork include the politics and economics of name-controlled foods at all levels, internal French conflicts between widely cited cultural habits and 'mentalities' and their decline in actual practice, access to political and regulatory information and how that relates to the exercise of power, and the tension between cultural ideals and commercial realities.
Brant, Erika Marie, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Ancestors and Aggrandizers: Modeling Political Power and Ancestor Veneration in a Post-collapse Andean Society (AD 1000-1450),' supervised by Dr. Stephen Plog
Preliminary abstract: Anthropologists have long viewed ancestors as a source of kin-based authority which leaders draw upon to validate claims to power. An alternative viewpoint posits that ancestor worship may prevent the emergence of centralized authority and provide the ideological foundations for more equitable forms of sociality. The proposed research evaluates contrasting theories of ancestor veneration in the Titicaca Basin of Peru through surface collection and targeted excavations at Sillustani -- the foremost necropolis of the Colla ethnic group (AD 1000-1450). Following the collapse of the Tiwanaku state, the proliferation of modest forms of burial and commemoration in the Colla region seems to indicate a rejection of aggrandizing ideologies and the use of ancestors to promote more equitable social relations. Such a model is supported by local lore and limited archaeological research which describe Sillustani as an empty pilgrimage center where varying groups gathered periodically to honor lineage forebearers. Conversely, colonial documents characterize the Colla as a highly centralized kingdom and raise the possibility that Sillustani was a political capital. If the Colla were as centralized as Spanish documents attest, and Colla leaders resided at Sillustani, it is probable that much of their power derived from their proximity to Sillustani's ancestors, thus casting doubt on an egalitarian model of Colla ancestor veneration. Employing faunal and ceramic analyses to gauge status and wealth inequalities at Sillustani, my project evaluates the extent to which ancestor worship promoted or constrained the development of centralized authority in Colla society. Research at Sillustani also places ancestors at the center of debates surrounding the regeneration of hierarchy in post-collapse societies.
Hamberger, Klaus, EHESS, Paris, France - To aid research on 'Kinship as Space,' supervised by Dr. Michael Houseman
KLAUS HAMBERGER, then a student at EHESS, Paris, France, was awarded funding in March 2005 to aid research on 'Kinship as Space,' supervised by Dr. Michael Houseman. Fieldwork has been conducted in the village of Afagnan-Gbleta, Prefecture of Afagnan, Maritime Region, Republic of Togo. Its aim was to collect evidence for the empirical assessment of systematic correlations between kinship and spatial patterns among the Ewe-speaking Watchi of South-East Togo. The evidence collected includes a household census, house and village plans, agricultural and market maps, and a genealogical network. These data have been completed by several interview series with clan representatives, vodu priests, and professional groups, and also and by participant observation (including the participation in rituals). Preliminary research results appear to corroborate the perspective in which the research project was undertaken: the identification of a unified model of residence and marriage alliance based on the hypotheses of a general tendency in both male and female kin groups to be localized. Watsi kinship structure includes bilinear descent groups and parallel sex-affiliation to religious groups, combined with spatial segregation (houses vs convents) and vertically parallel cross-cousin marriage. These features are also known from non-African societies and confirm the view that the model needs not to be restricted to the cultural areas for which it has originally been developed.
Zogas, Anna Baker, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on ''Invisible Injury': Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Disability Compensation in the U.S. Military Healthcare System,' supervised by Dr. Lorna A. Rhodes
Preliminary abstract: Since 2001, two million members of the United States' armed services have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq to wage the country's two most recent and protracted wars. Mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI), also known as concussion, is one of the most common injuries sustained by these troops and it has become known as one of the 'signature wounds' of the two post-9/11 wars. The etiology and the long-term effects of the injury are poorly defined, but mild TBI seems to be an emerging vocabulary the post-combat symptoms that some service members experience, and perhaps for 'invisible' combat injuries more generally. This research addresses how historically-specific conceptions of combat injuries and discourses of disability shape emerging constructions of mild TBI as a combat wound. In a twelve-month ethnographic study situated in the largest integrated healthcare organization in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), this research investigates mild TBI as it is constituted in medical research, clinical diagnosis, and the VA's unique disability benefits system, from the perspectives of medical researchers, clinicians, patients, and benefits officers.
Detwiler, Kate M., New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Hybridization Between Sympatric Cercopithecus Species in Gombe National Park, Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Clifford J. Jolly
KATE M. DETWILER, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in August 2005 to aid research on 'Hybridization between Sympatric Cercopithecus Species in Gombe National Park, Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Clifford J. Jolly. The project's objective is to investigate the genetic consequences of interspecific hybridization occurring among guenons (Cercopithecus ascanius and C. mitis) in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. The first research phase, field observation and collection of material for genetic analysis at Gombe and other East African sites, was completed in September 2005. The second phase, laboratory analysis of species-specific markers in mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal DNA, was scheduled to finish in August 2008. To date, mitochondrial data support reciprocal monophyly of C. ascanius and C. mitis populations outside the Gombe hybrid zone, yet within Gombe this pattern is not observed. The samples from Gombe show unambiguous evidence for introgression of C. ascanius mitochondrial DNA into C. mitis. The data indicate that C. mitis monkeys at Gombe originated from C. ascanius females. Samples from outside and within the Gombe hybrid zone show no evidence of Y-chromosomal introgression, however, Y-chromsomal data from Gombe show both C. mitis and C. ascanius males cross mate, as hybrid males have Y-chromosomal DNA of both parental species. This is the first genetic study of Cercopithecus hybridization and the preliminary results demonstrate that the species boundary between these two guenons is semipermeable.
Poggiali, Lisa, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Testimony and Texting: Mobile Phone Technology and Emergent 'Publics' in Contemporary Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Sylvia Yanagisako
LISA POGGIALI, then a student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Testimony and Texting: Mobile Phone Technology and Emergent 'Publics' in Contemporary Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Sylvia Yanagisako. Twelve months of ethnographic research in Nairobi, Kenya was undertaken with the following populations: developers in the 'Information and Communications Technologies ('ITC') community; residents of the informal settlement of Mathare, who were trained in digital cartography skills by a NGO that aimed to map the neighborhood; and governmental and non-governmental figures who engaged with digital mapping and/or urban planning in Nairobi's informal settlements. Both the epistemological underpinnings of the technical work of writing code and designing software, and the social and political effects of the technology in non-technical settings was examined and analyzed. Significant findings include the following: 1) technical activities such as writing code and designing software are culturally situated practices connected to local understandings of political patronage and corruption, labor markets, and consumption patterns, despite the fact that developers often described their work as 'value-free;' and 2) concepts such as 'transparency' and 'accountability' were regularly mobilized by disparate groups of informants to explain the benefits of digital mapping, but the meaning of these terms was dependent upon the identity of the speaker and the discursive context. This resulted in different understandings of the underlying ethics and politics at stake in digital mapping projects, and different barometers for measuring the 'success' of related projects.
Barks, Sarah Kate, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'The Neural Bases of Social Cognition in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes),' supervised by Dr. James Kelly Rilling
SARAH K. BARKS, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'The Neural Bases of Social Cognition in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes),' supervised by Dr. James Kelly Rilling. Social cognition has been suggested as a driving force in human brain evolution. Its neural substrates in humans are well known, but have not been explored in apes. This study examines the neural areas that support social cognition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) using fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography ([18F]-FDG PET) imaging. Four adult chimpanzees were scanned in two test conditions: high and low social complexity (performing tasks featuring videos of conspecifics engaged in social and non-social behaviors, respectively). These data, compared to images from a non-social condition, show activation in areas associated with social processing in humans: the superior temporal sulcus (detection of biological motion), insula (empathy), and amygdala (emotional arousal). A second aim of this study was to compare chimpanzee social and resting cognition -- a comparison that is well-described in human neuroimaging literature. This literature suggests that humans engage in social cognition at rest; further, chimpanzee resting brain activity is very similar to that of humans. However, the social cognitive data collected here show significant differences with the chimpanzee resting state. While resting activation is mostly cortical, the social activations relative to rest are largely limbic (including the amygdala, hypothalamus, and hippocampus), possibly suggesting more emotionally driven processing than in humans.
Barks, Sarah K., Lisa A. Parr, and James K. Rilling. 2013. The Default Mode Network in Chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes) is Similar to that of Humans. Cerebral Cortex (doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht253)
Weichselbraun, Anna Maria, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Regulating the Nuclear: The Textual Production of Technical Independence at the International Atomic Energy Agency,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Maco
Preliminary abstract: The proposed study is an ethnography of the communicative practices through which civil servants at the International Atomic Energy Agency seek to establish and maintain the organization's legitimacy as the sole arbiter in the regulation of global nuclear technology. This project asks how, against accusations of politicization and regulatory capture, various actors at the Agency work to display and communicate 'technical independence'--the unbiased technical competence and legal judgment by which the IAEA's missions can be made globally acceptable--to a vast international audience. The results of this study aim to expand anthropological knowledge in four domains: (1) the study of bureaucracy and documents, (2) historical and social scientific studies of knowledge and expertise, (3) analyses of legal and political language, and (4) understandings of a changing nuclear age. This project's careful attention to language as embedded in a range of other semiotic (sign) systems can offer a novel perspective on how the nuclear order with its laws and knowledge is constituted and contested. The research is based on 14 months of participant-observation, interviews, and archival work at the public information, legal, and training divisions of the IAEA and will be completed by rigorous linguistic anthropological analyses of the actors' interactional, ritual, and documentary practices.
Chua, Emily Huiching, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on ''Culture Can Solve Problems': Communitarian Media Ethics and the Cultural Ambitions of Television Production in China,' supervised by Dr. Aihwa Ong
EMILY H. CHUA, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, received a grant in April 2009, to aid research on ''Culture Can Solve Problems': Communitarian Media Ethics and the Cultural Ambitions of Television Production in China,' supervised by Dr. Aihwa Ong. As economic reform transforms China's mass media from a formidable Party-propaganda apparatus into a teeming culture industry, how are state-employed media producers responding to the changing political and economic conditions of their work? In the early twentieth century, Chinese journalists saw themselves as intellectual-activists who gave voice to the conscience of society and guided the country towards self-improvement. During the Mao era, the Communist Party's claim to exclusive ideological leadership turned the mass media into a mouthpiece of the Party-state. The end of Mao's revolutionary project and the rise of Deng's market-based approach have left China's media producers struggling to redefine the nature of their work. On the one hand, commercialization depoliticizes the media, allowing it to operate more like a forum of society than an instrument of the state. On the other hand, media producers are themselves now at the mercy of commercial forces. In the struggle for economic survival, they cannot afford to play the social critic they aspire to be. Political propaganda comes to be replaced by consumer entertainment instead, and society's conscience remains in need of a voice. From this situation spring the many new and difficult ethical problems with which China's idealistic and energetic young media producers now grapple.