Stubbs, Matilda, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Documenting Lives: The Material and Social Life of the Case File in the U.S. Foster Care System,' supervised by Dr. Helen Schwartzman
Preliminary abstract: This investigation focuses on the procedures of consent (Jacob 2007), compliance (Brodwin 2010), assessment, and auditing culture (Hetherington 2011; Strathern 2000) of the foster care 'system' in the United States. In this context, case files are the legal tool of administration - objects that create and facilitate relations between people and social resources. Here, documents are the materialization of bureaucratic labor and the objectification of case management. This kind of file contains personal data that describe and represent individual users (who become 'cases') in ways that render them lawfully identified, which qualify and in some circumstances require, specific social services and interventions. In addition, these documents also record the actions and movement of officials and reimbursable services, thus simultaneously also serving as institutional histories of staff meetings, administrative decision making, the guardian consent process, and of interactions with foster youth clientele. It is this dynamic interaction between participants, objects, and resources that my project aims to explore at the intersection of case management and paperwork. How do case files mediate relationships and social services between people and institutions, thereby reshaping the subjects of documentation as well as reinforcing, recreating, and formalizing aspects of the bureaucracy itself?
Hollenback, Kacy LeAnne, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Disaster, Technology, and Community: Measuring Responses to Smallpox Epidemics in Historic Hidatsa Villages, North Dakota,' supervised by Dr. Maria Nieves Zedeno
KACY LEANNE HOLLENBACK, then a student at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Disaster, Technology, and Community: Measuring Responses to Smallpox Epidemics in Historic Hidatsa Villages, North Dakota,' supervised by Dr. Maria Nieves Zedeno. Disasters are prevalent phenomena in the human experience, having played a formative role in shaping world cultures. The anthropology of disaster recognizes that these processes have the potential to affect every facet of human life, including biological, technological, ritual, political, social, and economic aspects of a society. How groups react to and cope with these processes dramatically shapes their cultural histories. Using theoretical assumptions from the anthropology of technology, this research explores the social impacts of disaster at the household and community levels by drawing on method, theory, and information from across subdisciplinary boundaries to incorporate archaeological, ethnohistoric, and ethnographic datasets. Specifically, this research explores how Hidatsa potters located near the Knife River of North Dakota responded to the smallpox epidemics of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and how these women maintained or modified their daily practice in light of these catastrophic events. Research findings indicate complex and heterogeneous responses with lasting legacies among contemporary descendants. Significantly this research suggests that in order to fully understand disaster processes a broad temporal lens is necessary.
Mixter, David Williams, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Surviving Collapse: Investigating Ancient Maya Responses to the End of Divine Kingship at Actuncan, Belize,' supervised by Dr. David Freidel
Preliminary abstract: My dissertation research will develop a case study for regeneration following collapse in order to investigate the way authority structures are negotiated at a local level within the context of societal collapse. I focus on the specific example of the ancient Maya site of Actuncan in western Belize. To understand the processes of regeneration, I draw on resilience theory to explain regeneration in terms of the exploitation of released resources and on the communities ability to draw on social memory as a blueprint for recovery, a motivator of change, and a source of political legitimacy. I will determine the level of continuity of political form at Actuncan from the pre-collapse Classic period (A.D. 250-780) to the post-collapse Terminal Classic period (A.D. 780-1000) through investigations into the only public building constructed following the collapse. Excavations will reveal its architectural form, and laboratory analysis will evaluate activity areas through macroartifact analysis and distributional analyses of microartifacts and elemental residues. I will investigate the way community memory of the town's Classic period history was used to legitimize post-collapse authority. Excavations will target known Terminal Classic ritual deposits associated with Classic period monumental architecture to determine where these deposits reflect reverential or desecratory rituals.
Cato, Jason William, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Rethinking Militarization: An Ethnography of Social Governance on the US-Mexico Boundary,' supervised by Dr. Shannon E. Speed
JASON CATO, then a student at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, received a grant in October 2008, to aid research on ' Rethinking Militarization: An Ethnography of Social Governance on the US-Mexico Boundary,' supervised by Dr. Shannon E. Speed. Through a critical assessment of the changing forms of border and immigration enforcement in relation to local publics, the comparative ethnographic research examined how different communities experienced, contested, and negotiated state practices of surveillance, detention, and deportation. An initial focus on differences in actual enforcement strategies of the Border Patrol (BP) logically developed into a critical, ethnographic analysis of an entirely new, and little understood, program known as Secure Communities (S-Comm), a new interior enforcement project that uses biometric technology and local police collaboration to identify, detain, and deport unauthorized immigrants. The project first sought to examine how the Border Patrol (BP) negotiated its stated goal of protection of national security through deterrence of illegal drugs and immigration, but quickly evolved through unexpected findings to concentrate upon the Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) new form of militarization: S-Comm, which has rescaled federal immigration policing through the cultivation of local police as front-line triggers of immigrant detention and deportation. By examining a hitherto unexamined form of militarization, this research project provides important new theoretical and empirical insights into social processes of border and immigration enforcement, and for several areas of anthropology, including US-Mexico borderlands studies, the anthropology of the state, and debates on culture and power.
Seselj, Maja, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Human Growth Evolving: Integrating Dental and Skeletal Growth Proxies to Understand Life History in Fossil Homo', supervised by Dr. Susan Carol Anton
MAJA SESELJ, then a student at New York University, received funding in May 2009 to aid research on 'Human Growth Evolving: Integrating Dental and Skeletal Growth Proxies to Understand Life History in Homo,' supervised by Dr. Susan Antón. Modern humans differ from our closest living relatives, the African apes, in having a particularly long period of growth and development, both dental and skeletal. Although many studies focused either on dental or skeletal development in fossil hominins, a key to a better understanding of the evolution of the modern human pattern of growth and development is evaluating both developmental systems simultaneously. This study aims to elucidate the relationship between dental and skeletal growth and chronological age in modern humans and Pleistocene hominins, and to explore the variability in dental and skeletal ontogeny in a large and diverse recent modern human sample from North America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. The results suggest that dental and skeletal growth and development are not conditionally independent given age, but the conditional relationship is relatively weak; thus one developmental system may not be a reliable proxy for the other. The ontogenetic patterns in Neanderthals and early H. sapiens appear to be generally comparable to recent modern humans.
Seselj, Maya. 2013. Relationship between Dental Development and Skeletal Growth in Modern Humans and Its Implications for Interpreting Ontogeny in Fossil Hominins. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 150(1):38-47.
Halverson, Colin Michael Egenberger, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Asymmetrical Meaning in Patient--Provider Interaction,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein
Preliminary abstract: This linguistic anthropological study will investigate how patients and medical experts work together in the process of healthcare decision-making. Current standards in American bioethics put patient understanding at the heart of the practice. Recent studies have also suggested that the success of a medical intervention hinges on the patient's comprehension of his or her role in continuing treatment. However, significant differences in the education and background of patients and experts complicate attempts at realizing these ideals. Yet both parties have much at stake -- financially, medically, and professionally -- in the success of these interactions. Professional encounters are thus sites of communication in which the incomplete sharedness of meaning must be recognized, ameliorated, and lived with. I will work with doctors, patients, and other specialists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in order to investigate this tension. By focusing on the asymmetry of meaning, I will examine implications for the medical ideal of an 'informed and autonomous' patient. I will also expand classical theories of meaning and communication that emphasize the ways in which presumptions of shared knowledge succeed while downplaying the social and medical implications of the inherent incompleteness of such processes.
Mahmud, Lilith, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Seeking Sisterhood: Elite Constructions of Gender in the Italian Freemasonry,' supervised by Dr. Michael F. Herzfeld
LILITH MAHMUD, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded funding in June 2005 to aid research on 'Seeking Sisterhood: Elite Constructions of Gender in the Italian Freemasonry,' supervised by Dr. Michael F. Herzfeld. This project examined the making of gender in elite circles through the ethnographic study of Masonic Lodges in Italy. Through participant observation and in-depth interviews, the grantee studied the everyday lives of upper-class men and women members of four different Masonic Orders, providing an ethnographic account of this (in)famous esoteric organization -formerly a secret society for men only- that continues to operate in Italy among widespread conspiracy theories. Paying close attention to performances of intellectualism and 'high' culture, exclusionary politics, and both esoteric and social activities throughout the research, this study examined the role of secrecy in the establishment of relative power within an elite group, and the gendering of particular forms of femininities and masculinities among the upper classes of society. Findings emerging from research undertaken under this grant highlight the complexity and contingency of gender as a category, and the significance of cultural and social capital, in addition to financial resources, for the making of European elites.
Mahmud, Lilith. 2012. 'The World is a Forest of Symbols': Italian Freemasonry and the Practice of Discretion. American Ethnologist 39(2):425-438.
Bond, David W., New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Hydrocarbon Frontiers: Experts and the Social Life of Facts at a Caribbean Refinery,' supervised by Dr. Ann Laura Stoler
DAVID BOND, then a student at New School for Social Research, New York, New York, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Hydrocarbon Frontiers: Experts and the Social Life of Facts at a Caribbean Refinery,' supervised by Dr. Ann Stoler. This project is an ethnographic analysis of the composition of hydrocarbons and the environment at the HOVENSA refinery in the US Virgin Islands. Taking the substance of oil as an ethnographic question, this research documents the making (and unmaking) of what counts as crude oil in practices and policies of environmental protection. As one of the most technologically sophisticated systems, HOVENSA is a strategic site for observing the role of experts in fabricating new forms of hydrocarbon facts and the political effects of such a process. This research pushes the anthropology of fact production into a critical engagement with the political economy of facts.
Rosa, Jonathan Daniel, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Learning to Hear a Nation?s Limits: Language Ideologies and Ethnoracial Subjectivity in U.S. High Schools,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal
JONATHAN DANIEL ROSA, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Learning to Hear a Nation's Limits: Language Ideologies and Ethnoracial Subjectivity in U.S. High Schools,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal. This grant supported twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork carried out between 2008-2009 within a newly created Chicago public high school whose student body was more than 90 percent Mexican and Puerto Rican. Observational, interview, and linguistic data include ongoing observations of more than 90 students, teachers, and administrators in the field site, as well as 40 in-depth interviews with students, teachers, and administrators. These data track: 1) the school's efforts toward transforming students; 2) students' shifting ideas about ethnoracial categories; and 3) the social sites in which distinctions between 'Mexicans' and 'Puerto Ricans' were undermined by emergent 'Latino' sensibilities. This research shows how processes of ethnoracial category making take shape as dialectic counterparts in relation to which language and literacy were understood and practiced in this field site. In particular, the linguistic findings reveal: 1) the profound redefinition of bilingualism as disability and 'languagelessness;' 2) students' strategies for escaping linguistic stigmatization; and 3) the semiotic operations that reduced students' expansive symbolic repertoires to criminality. This analysis of language and ethnoracial identity suggests the broader potential for people to look like a language and sound like a race across cultural contexts.
Ghassem-Fachandi, Parvis, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'The Political Use of Ahimsa (Non-Violence) and Vegetarianism in Post-Independent Ahmedabad,' supervised by Dr. James T. Siegel
PARVIS GHASSEM-FACHANDI, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, received funding in February 2005 to aid research on 'The Political Use of Ahimsa (Non-Violence) and Vegetarianism in Post-Independent Ahmedabad,' supervised by Dr. James T. Siegel. This project focused on the question, 'How can a doctrine of nonviolence become implicated in the production of violence?' by exploring the political use of the concept of ahimsa (nonviolence) in post-independence Ahmedabad. It followed the transformation of ahimsa -- from a magical technology that protects the sacrifier against the revenge of the animal victim, to an ethical doctrine of renunciation and prohibition of animal sacrifice, to a weapon against colonial domination, and finally, to a new form of politico-religious identification. Far from being only an abstract ethical ideal, ahimsa in Gujarat encompasses concrete cultural practices such as vegetarianism, cow- and animal protection, and forms of worship (sacrifice), all of which are implicated in caste upward mobility, Hindu-Muslim relations, and communal violence.
Ghassem-Fachandi, Parvis. 2010. Ahimsa, Identification, and Sacrifice in the Gujarat Pogrom. Social Anthropology 18(2):155-175.