Ruigrok, Inge Mariette, Free U., Amsterdam, The Netherlands - To aid research on 'Negotiating Governance: Politics, Decentralization, and Cultural Ideology in Post-War Angola,' supervised by Dr. Jon Abbink
INGE MARIETTE RUIGROK, then a student at Free University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, was awarded funding in May 2006 to aid research on 'Negotiating Governance: Politics, Decentralization and Cultural Ideology in Post-War Angola,' supervised by Dr. Jon Abbink. The aim of this multi-sited ethnography is to come to an understanding of the changing political relations and identities in Angola in explicit connection with the current negotiation process of governance and power. Angola's political world is not being reordered by State structures alone but equally by complex and interlinked global forces and localized struggles over redistribution and recognition. The national capital as the centre of mobilization and modernity, and Huila province, where the State's political reconstruction strategy is implemented and contested, are the research's main sites. At the local level, the research compares three types of 'redistributive' struggles: the surfacing of local elite associations; the political rebuilding of a former war zone in the north of Huila province; and civil society's attempt to enlarge the public sphere beyond the state through the creation of spaces of dialogue with local state administrators. By comparing the rebuilding efforts at the local level to the national dynamics, the research analyzes a correlative relationship: what is political justice at the local level, and how does it interact with the State's project of dispensing justice and reconciliation? With this focus on the functioning of the body politic, the (un)making of identity, and the small history and memory of a region emerging from one of the bloodiest 'low intensity' conflicts Africa has ever known, the research hopes to contribute to current debates on State-formation, power and political identity, and more generally, to theory formation on the intertwining of politics and culture in a changing world order.
Ruigrok, Inge. 2010. Facing Up to the Centre: The Emergence of Regional Elite Associations in Angola's Political Transition Process. Development and Change 41(4):637-658.
Gregorio De Souza, Dr. Jonas, U. of Exeter, Exeter, UK - To aid research on 'House Architecture and Community Organization: Exploring Alternative Pathways to Complexity in the Southern Brazilian Highlands,' supervised by Dr. Jose Iriarte
Preliminary abstract: This project will make a contribution to the debate about the role of large-scale architecture in aggrandizing vs. communal forms of emergent socio-political complexity with a case study from the Taquara/Itarare Tradition of the Southern Brazilian Highlands. Fieldwork will be conducted at a large, dense, and well-planned pit house settlement whose inner precinct exhibits formally arranged domestic and public architecture organized around an oversized pit house. Targeted excavations at pit houses of distinct sizes and mound features, combined with systematic sampling at the whole site will reveal community organization and solve a major debate concerning the role of oversized pit structures either as possible high status domestic units or communal integrative facilities. The results of the project will shed light on the socio-political organization of the Taquara/Itarare Tradition and advance our understanding of the role of domestic and public architecture in different types of social formations.
Lindsay, Ian C., U. of California, Santa Barbara, CA - To aid research on 'Late Bronze Age Power Dynamics in the Armenian Highlands: A Community Perspective on Political Landscape, ' supervised by Dr. Stuart T. Smith
IAN C. LINDSAY, then a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California, received funding in July 2004 to aid research on 'Late Bronze Age Power Dynamics in the Armenian Highlands: A Community Perspective on Political Landscape,' supervised by Dr. Stuart T. Smith. The grant was used to fund the sourcing analysis of archaeological ceramics and several clay sources as a means for tracing the origin and circulation of Late Bronze Age pottery in northwestern Armenia, contributing to dissertation research on political and economic transformations in the south Caucasus during the mid-second millennium B.C. The project employed instrumental neutron activation analysis and petrographic analysis to determine the clay sources of 200 sherd samples from a Late Bronze Age fortress lower town located in the Tsaghkahovit Plain, northwestern Armenia, and to compare them with sources of ceramics from the fortress citadel. Neutron activation data from clay beds located within the Tsaghkahovit Plain and in the neighboring Shirak Plain, Pambak River Valley, and Aparan Valley were used as a baseline to establish the sources and circulation patterns of local and non-local ceramics recovered from elite and non-elite contexts of a single fortress system. Preliminary neutron activation results were supported by the results of petrographic analysis, both of which provide strong evidence that ceramics from both elite (fortress citadel) and non-elite (lower town) contexts were made from clay derived locally within the Tsaghkahovit Plain. These data suggest a remarkable level of economic insularity after nearly a millennium of nomadic pastoralism during the previous Middle Bronze Age period (c.2200-1500 B.C.). These important shifts seem to reflect that, with the construction of stone cyclopean fortresses beginning in the Late Bronze Age, the emergence of the region's first sustained political institutions necessitated the production of new spaces to legitimize and map the new socioeconomic order.
Blumenthal, Scott Adam, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on Reconstructing Woody Cover and Habitat Heterogeneity in Modern and Ancient East African Environments with Stable Isotopes,' supervised by Dr. Thomas W. Plummer
SCOTT A. BLUMENTHAL, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Reconstructing Woody Cover and Habitat Heterogeneity in Modern and Ancient East African Environments with Stable Isotopes,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Plummer. Environmental dynamics are thought to have driven numerous fundamental human evolutionary innovations during the Pleistocene (~2.5-1 million years ago). Paleoenvironmental records from northern Kenya and northern Ethiopia suggest that hominin experienced increasingly open, heterogeneous environmental conditions in East Africa. Unfortunately, our understanding of regional variability in environmental change is severely biased by interpretations from a small sample of sites, and there are few empirical records to assess heterogeneity in the fossil record. The first aim of this study was to understand vegetation variation across a wide range of modern environments using stable carbon isotopes in soils from national parks and reserves in Uganda. This provides a template for reconstructing vegetation heterogeneity in the fossil record. The second aim of this study was to reconstruct Pleistocene environments to understand the record of human evolution on the Homa Peninsula, southwestern Kenya. It appears that paleoenvironments in this region were characterized by an abundance of grass during periods of fossil mammal preservation, which indicates that unlike other regions there is no evidence for a directional shift toward more open habitats. These results suggest that environmental hypotheses of human evolution must account for regional variability in environmental change across East Africa.
Rabey, Karyne Nancy, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Forelimb Muscle and Muscle Attachment Morphology in Primates,' supervised by Dr. David R. Begun
KARYNE NANCY RABEY, then a student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, was awarded a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Forelimb Muscle and Muscle Attachment Morphology in Primates,' supervised by Dr. David R. Begun. Muscle attachment sites are formed during growth and development and are often used to reconstruct lifestyles and activity patterns of past populations. However, little is understood about the relationship between the appearance of bony features and the structure and function of the associated attaching soft-tissues. First, this research investigated whether muscle markings on the forelimbs reflect muscle size, strength and activity of orangutans and macaques from the Toronto Zoo. Preliminary results show that muscle attachment area seems to correspond to the physiological cross-sectional area and the fiber length values. This relationship was then further explored by testing how activity influenced the morphological development of the shoulder muscles and the corresponding attachments in wild-type mice subjected to three experimental activity patterns: sedentary-control, activity-wheel running, and activity-climbing. Analyses of fiber length and muscle weight indicate that wheel-running mice had greater overall excursion. The rate of bone growth was significantly greater in wheel-running mice than the other groups. However, the climbing mice showed more histologic variation in bone growth remodeling. These results contribute to a better understanding of how muscle and bone interact throughout their development and improve our ability to interpret behavior from human and non-human primate skeletal remains.
G'sell, Brady Lyford, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Relational Subjects: Women's Child-Support Claims and the Remaking of Political Identity,' supervised by Dr. Adam Ashforth
Preliminary abstract: My research examines women's child support claims to explore constructions of political identities in South Africa. Through ethnographic research, I will investigate the claims women make upon multiple people and institutions for various forms of support so I that may track how citizenship is worked out in everyday practices, themselves intimately tied up with kinship bonds. In South Africa the state's support of a child must be mediated by a caregiver and, conversely, the caregiver's needs only garner support insofar as they affect the needs of the child. I examine the conditions produced by the legal and social imaginations of the child-in-need-of-support in which political recognition is predicated on proving a relationship to a child, and I explore how these conditions impact the lives of the women and families who care for children. My research asks what new kinds of relationships to the state are formed and what new forms of political subjectivity emerge that challenge the presumed centrality of the individual within theories of citizenship. By articulating an intersection of citizenship, family, and state, my research will bridge the analytical divide between the domestic and the political and provide a reconceptualization of the political subject in terms of relationality.
von Hatzfeldt, Gaia, U. of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Vernacular Justice: Adjudicating Corruption in Rural India,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan Spencer
GAIA von HATZFELDT, then a student at University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Vernacular Justice: Adjudicating Corruption in Rural India,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan Spenser. Policy-making is not a static linear process, but rather, it is intrinsically dynamic, involving a broad constellation of variables, actors and activities. A significant variable in this dynamism of policy-making is the role played by civil society. This project examines the processes involved in the formulation of one of India's landmark social policies - the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) - through the lens of one particular civil society formation. Specifically, it focuses on the efforts of these civil society actors in institutionalising social audits, a mechanism for safeguarding transparency and accountability in NREGA. MKSS, an organisation active in rural Rajasthan, has over its two decades of campaigning against corruption, become widely recognised as pundits in the practice of social audits. By mobilising on various scales and performing multiple roles and affiliations, MKSS has played a significant role in drafting national transparency and accountability measures. The entry of MKSS into domains of decision-making in the formulation of NREGA indicates that policy-making is a porous and fluid process. By shaping the formulation of social audits for NREGA, MKSS contributes to the blurring of boundaries between state and society and the reconfiguration of policy-making processes in India.
Koch, Insa Lee, U. of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on ''Anti-Social Behaviour': Law and Order in the British Working Class,' supervised by Dr. David Gellner
INSA LEE KOCH, then a student at the University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on ''Anti-Social Behavior': Law and Order in the British Working Class,' supervised by Dr. David Gellner. This research investigated the role of the state in the life of white working class people on a post-industrial council estate in England. As geographically demarcated areas of government-built housing, often characterized by a strong involvement of state authorities and high degrees of welfare dependency, council estates can be seen as primary instances of state-building projects. Based upon ethnographic fieldwork conducted on one of Britain's largest council estates, this research investigated how its local people come to imagine and make use of the state in their everyday lives. It found that people often treat the state as a personalized resource to rely upon to upset, modify, and generate intimate social relationships that otherwise exist beyond the domain of official state intervention. In a context characterized by intra-community divisions and enmities, an array of state actors -- such as the police, social services and council officers -- then become potential allies to mobilize in one's pursuit of reputation, recognition and justice. Looking at the state, not as a distinct entity on its own, but as an intimate extension of people's social lives, this research offered insights into the sociality of British working-class communities, as well as into broader anthropological discussions of the state, citizenship, and democratic politics.
Ayuandina, Sherria Puteri, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Restoring Virginity: Hymenoplasty, Value Negotiations, and Sexual Knowledge among Migrant Muslim Women in the Netherlands,' supervised by Dr. John R. Bowen
Preliminary abstract: In many societies, unmarried women must negotiate the tension between premarital sexual desires and social expectations to maintain virginity before marriage (Eich 2010, Buskens 1999, Parla 2001). With recent developments in medical technology and the rise of opportunities for premarital sexual behavior, young women who believe that they no longer possess an intact hymen can now undergo hymenoplasty surgery, which alters the hymen ring to minimize the aperture. While hymenoplasty draws its significance from socially-constructed values of virginity, there is a lack of ethnographic exploration of the phenomenon. Studies on hymenoplasty to date have been primarily conducted by medical researchers who focus on the surgical procedure and doctors' ethical dilemmas. They often assume that the desire for this surgery is evidence of women's oppression. Most ignore the social motivations of the female patients, the intergenerational networks among women of migrant background, and the 'migrant-native' dynamics between the patient and the doctors (Bhugra 1998, Parla 2001). I will investigate the complicated and contradictory social aspects of hymenoplasty as experienced and negotiated by Muslim women patients from migrant background in the Netherlands. The surgery will provide a site to observe the negotiation of sexual values surrounding female virginity between the young women and other members of the community of her background, between the patients, the family, and the doctors, as well as among the doctors themselves, and thereby explore the negotiation of values and of control of sexuality in a pluralistic setting.