Pennesi, Karen E., U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Communication and Uses of Traditional and Scientific Climate Forecasts in Ceara, Brazil,' supervised by Dr. Jane H. Hill
KAREN PENNESI, then a student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, received funding in January 2005 for dissertation fieldwork on rain predictions in Ceará,Northeast Brazil, under the supervision of Jane H. Hill. The project investigated how environmental knowledge is communicated differently by traditional 'rain prophets' and meteorologists. A central question was how communication practices affect the interpretation, evaluation, and perceived relevance of climate forecasts to smallholder farmers. During 13 months of fieldwork, Pennesi observed the generation and interpretation of traditional and scientific climate forecasts. Field trips and interviews with rain prophets (who make predictions based on continual observation of the ecosystem) provided insights into traditional practices. In the scientific domain, understanding grew from weekly interactions with meteorologists and attendance at workshops, press conferences, and presentations. Information from recorded interviews, focus group discussions, media broadcasts, and public events was used to develop a 4 survey administered to 189 rural households in three regions of Ceará state: Quixadá, Tauá, and Cariri. The survey explored knowledge of both traditional and meteorological rain indicators as well as opinions related to climate forecasting. Pennesi has now cataloged over 900 traditional rain indicators. Further questions about agricultural practices, religion, government, and science provided data used to elucidate cultural models affecting how climate forecasts are interpreted and judged. Feedback on preliminary conclusions was obtained from rain prophets, meteorologists, and farmers. In the final months, Pennesi's research was used as part of a communication plan in development at the Ceará Foundation for Meteorology and Hydrological Resources.
Fried, Ruby L., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Intergenerational Impacts of Culture Change: Traditional Food and the Metabolic Functioning of Alaska Native Peoples,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kawaza
Preliminary abstract: Anthropological studies conducted from Samoa to Siberia have demonstrated consequences of cultural change on human biological variation. Findings point to market integration, 'Westernization,' 'acculturation,' and other social transitions as determinants of changes in diet and lifestyle that lead to increased obesity and metabolic dysregulation in affected populations. While the majority of this research has focused on the direct impacts of such shifts on adult biology, recent work is focusing attention on early life critical periods when experiences can lead to durable biological changes that alter developmental biology and long-term health. As a recent manifestation of this idea, rising rates of maternal obesity, gestational weight gain (GWG), and high blood glucose and triglycerides may be creating an evolutionarily novel, gestational milieu that promotes faster fetal growth, higher birth weights, adiposity, and metabolic dysregulation in offspring. This emerging evidence supports a new hypothesis: the impacts of culture change on human biology do not end with the individual who directly experiences it, but may also be transmitted, via an altered in utero environment, to the next generation. The proposed study aims to test this model of an intergenerational impact of culture change among Alaska Native mother-infant dyads by comparing dietary intake (traditional vs. Western foods) with maternal obesity, GWG, pregnancy metabolism and fetal/infancy growth and adiposity in offspring. Recent and still ongoing cultural and dietary transitions among Alaska Native groups provide a valuable opportunity to evaluate maternal metabolism as a pathway linking rapid culture change with altered growth, body composition and health outcomes in offspring.
Sykes, Jim, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'A 'Space' for Sound: Sacred Music, Sentiment, and the Politics of Place in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Philip V. Bohlman
JIM SYKES, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'A 'Space' for Sound: Sacred Music, Sentiment, and the Politics of Place in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Philip V. Bohlman. Sri Lanka has become infamous around the world as a site of 'ethnic conflict,' on account of the island's 25-year civil war between the Sinhala-led government and the Tamil-led Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L TIE). One outcome of the conflict is the mainstreaming of ethnonationalist ideologies of cultural separation, which view the island's Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, and other populations as having thoroughly distinct cultural histories. This dissertation contests such an overly ethnicized reading of Sri Lankan cultural history, through the lens of musical practices. Rather than focus on one ethnic group and 'its' music, the project locates music as a site of contestation between two radically alternate narratives of Sri Lankan social relations: on the one hand, a history of ethnic division, chauvinism, and violence; on the other, an underrepresented history of tolerance, borrowing, and mixing. Drawing on fieldwork with musicians in two locations (one majority Sinhala, the other majority Tamil) and focusing on traditional drumming (yak hera, maththalam), the project explores music's entanglements with personhood, modernity, trauma, and historical narrative from a comparative perspective, in order to articulate a discourse on Sri Lankan communities that is regional, rather than ethnic or linguistic, in scope.
Sykes, Jim. 2013. Culture as Freedom: Musical 'Liberation' in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Ethnomusicology 57(3):485-517.
Kett, Robert John, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Subterranean Science: Oil, Archaeology and the Making of Southern Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Mei Zhan
ROBERT J. KETT, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, was awarded a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Subterranean Science: Oil, Archaeology and the Making of Southern Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Mei Zhan. From atop Complex C, an overgrown pyramid at the center of the Olmec archaeological site of La Venta, the visitor can see the pipes and towers of the Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) processing plant that sits next to the archaeological zone. Such natural and cultural resource projects have dramatically transfigured the town of Villa la Venta and the Mexican state of Tabasco. This research examines how intellectual inquiry on the Mexican Gulf Coast has contributed to the region's dramatic transformation through projects of natural and cultural resource development in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It demonstrates how various knowledge-making projects-which identified natural and cultural resources including Olmec archaeological centers and petroleum reserves-were necessary precursors to the subsequent transformation of the region from an infamous 'backwater' into a center of heritage tourism and oil extraction. The research then offers an intellectual history that points to the active role of such projects in processes of region- and resource-making, arguing for an increased attention to the ways in which intellectual projects interact in the context of field research and to the connections between such interdisciplinary inquiry and broader regional development.
Barnes, Jessica Emily, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Farming Fayoum: The Flows and Frictions of Irrigation in Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Paige West
JESSICA BARNES, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Farming Fayoum: The Flows and Frictions of Irrigation in Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Paige West. This research asks how farmers' everyday practices of water use in the Fayoum, Egypt, are affected by changes in the national and international context in which they make their decisions, and how farmers' decisions, in turn, shape this context. The research explores the relationship between government policy shifts, international donors' agendas, and farmers' decision-making on water management through analysis of four central themes: 1) water scarcity; 2) management of excess water through drainage; 3) participatory water management; and 4) the diversion of water to irrigate newly reclaimed desert lands. Through participant observation, interviews, and documentary analysis, this research follows the flows of water across time and space, highlighting the points of friction where the water does not flow. The research builds on the anthropological literature on irrigation, extending it in new ways through bringing in insights from science and technology studies and embedding the study of local irrigation practices within the broader context of national and international, political and economic transitions.
Nugent, Selin Elizabeth, Ohio State U., Columbus, OH - To aid research on 'Mobile Pastoralism and Power in Early Urban Centers of the Serur Valley, Azerbaijan (1500-800BC),' supervised by Dr. Clark S. Larsen
Preliminary abstract: This project combines stable and radiogenic isotopic analysis with the examination of mortuary space to explore how mobile pastoralists negotiated authority during Late Bronze/Early Iron Age (1500-800BC) in the earliest urban settlements of the Serur valley in Azerbaijan. Urban development is traditionally predicated on sedentism and agricultural production. Unlike traditional models, the South Caucasus offers a context in which emerging complex polities depended primarily on mobile pastoralist populations (Lindsay and Greene 2013). The proposed project will investigate mobile pastoralist roles in polities and their demonstrated authority over the construction and elaboration of mortuary space. This project will study a sample of 50 skeletal individuals and their mortuary contexts in Serur valley urban sites to test two hypotheses: (1) LBA/EIA populations engaged in mobile pastoralism through seasonal and recurrent mobility and (2) mobile pastoralists maintained control of resources in mortuary space through coercive and/or cooperative negotiations with emerging political institutions. Combined strontium and oxygen isotopic analysis on dental enamel sequentially sampled from each individual will be used to identify frequency and distance of mobility. Identification of pastoralist mobility patterns in turn aids in investigating the control more mobile people had over economic, political, and sacred resources for construction of mortuary space as reflected in style, location, and elaboration of burials. Understanding how mobile pastoralists interacted with administrative systems to negotiate space and power is an essential component of unraveling the processes of the development of complex sociopolitical structures.
Edwards, Terra, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Language, Embodiment, and Sociality in a Tactile Life-world: Communication Practices in Everyday Life among Deaf-Blind People in Seattle, Washington,' supervised by Dr. William F. Hanks
TERRA EDWARDS, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Language, Embodiment, and Sociality in a Tactile Life-World: Communication Practices in Everyday Life among Deaf-Blind People in Seattle, Washington,' supervised by Dr. William F. Hanks. This project investigates language and communication practices in a community in Seattle, Washington, whose members are born deaf and, due to a genetic condition, lose their vision slowly. Most members grew up using visual American Sign Language (ASL). Upon moving to Seattle, they transition to a tactile mode of reception of ASL. Until recently, this transition was treated as a compensatory strategy. Thus, a single interaction often occurred in two different modalities: a sighted or partially sighted person would use visual reception, while their blind interlocutor used tactile reception. Despite this variation, it remained normative to organize access to the immediate environment along visual lines. Therefore, the more a person moved away from visual practices and orientations, the more reliant on interpreters they became. Then, in 2007, a 'pro-tactile' social movement took hold, calling for the cultivation of tactile dispositions regardless of sensory capacity. Once everyone-blind, sighted, and partially sighted- 'went tactile,' relations between linguistic forms and the social and physical environment were reconfigured and new grammatical sub-systems began to emerge. Ongoing research aims to understand how linguistic forms derived from visual ASL are calibrated to the contours of this emergent tactile world, yielding an emergent, tactile language.
Singer, Elyse Ona,Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Legalizing Sin: Abortion among Catholic Women in Mexico City,' supervised by Dr. Rebecca Lester
Preliminary abstract: Despite the secular foundations of the modern Mexican state, the Church historically has wielded tremendous power over public life and political processes. Recently, however, gradual democratization of the political system, rising secularization, and pederasty scandals, have dampened the Church's political and popular authority and fundamentally altered its role in Mexican society (Amuchástegui et al. 2010; Amuchástegui and Flores 2013). In this climate, reproduction and sexuality have emerged as a key arena for long-standing conflicts between Church and state (Medina-Arellano 2012; Amuchástegui et. al 2013). Women's bodies in particular have been transformed into a political battleground for powerful actors and institutions, or 'discourse publics', interested in advancing contrasting moral visions for the future of Mexico (Fraser 1989: 297). These tensions crystalized with the watershed legalization of abortion in the nation's capital in 2007, legislation that is emblematic of broader transformations in 'reproductive governance' sweeping Latin America (Morgan and Roberts 2012). As these regional changes take acute shape in Mexico, I examine their lived implications for a population of social actors caught at the nexus of shifting moral and legal regimes of reproduction, an elision in current scholarship on this concept. Specifically, I explore how young Catholic women in Mexico City navigate sharply competing understandings about their bodies, their rights, and their morality when deciding on the course of an untenable pregnancy.
Ingebretson, Britta Elisabeth, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Media, Circulation and the State: A Study of Women's Reading Practices in a Chinese Village,' supervised by Dr. Judith Farquhar
BRITTA E. INGEBRETSON, then a graduate student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Media, Circulation and the State: A Study of Women's Reading Practices in a Chinese Village,' supervised by Dr. Judith Farquhar. The grantee has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on women's leisure and media consumption habits in Tunxi, located in southern Anhui Province, China. The project explores how women in a rural city seek to constitute themselves as modern, 'cultured' (you wenhua de) subjects in China's rapidly urbanizing countryside, and how these women navigate through and interact with state efforts to produce 'quality' (you suzhi de) subjects. Through fieldwork at various sites including a rural school, a yoga studio, and a newsstand, this research shows how rather than reject concepts of 'quality' or 'culturedness' as promoted through state campaigns such as the 'superior birth, superior (child) rearing' (yousheng youyu) campaign, women seek to inhabit and quite literally embody them through various projects of self-improvement. These concepts of 'quality' and 'culturedness' are defined through a constellation of diverse and seemingly disconnected practices and qualities that index a forward-thinking, modern, and upwardly mobile mother independent from traditional family networks and local hierarchies, as well as distinct from the imagined 'backwards' (luohou) rural subject.
Abdelrahman, Nisrin Elamin, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Life, Law and Belonging: Contested Land and the Politics of Claim-making in Central Sudan,' supervised by Dr. James Ferguson
Preliminary abstract: The new, yet old, phenomenon of 'land grabbing' is often characterized in media and NGO reports as an unstoppable tidal wave that has hit the African continent. Informed by anthropological approaches, this project seeks to understand and examine 'foreign land grabs' as a multi-directional set of historically contingent interactions, practices and contestations shaped by heterogeneous interests and relationships. My investigation is situated in the agricultural Gezira region of central Sudan, where government elites recently devised a plan to revive the nation's post-secession economy, by attracting foreign investments in agriculture from within the Muslim world. Prompted in turn by the 2008 food and financial crises, foreign agribusiness companies have since leased large tracts of land, previously farmed or owned by Gezira residents, for large-scale food production. This project explores how these foreign land acquisitions are reshaping social relations between various stakeholders with competing claims to Sudanese land. Specifically, I seek to understand social transformations put in motion when different forms of religious and political authority, understandings of Islam and notions of belonging are invoked and mobilized to lay claim to land. I approach this inquiry by focusing on the role prominent Sufi Muslim leaders (shaykhs) are playing in mediating and shaping local efforts to reclaim lands leased to foreign investors.