High, Mette M., U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK - To aid 'A Study of Gold Mining, Pastoralism, and Changing Working Lives in Rural Mongolia,' supervised by Dr. Caroline Humphrey
METTE M. HIGH, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, received funding in January 2006 to aid research on 'A Study of Gold Mining, Pastoralism and Changing Working Lives in Rural Mongolia', supervised by Prof. Caroline Humphrey. The research objectives were to understand the practical and cosmological issues that arise for pastoralists when mining comes to occupy a visible social and physical space and presents them with new subsistence opportunities. Fieldwork consisted of 10 months' participant observation and interviews with people who are taking part in the current gold rush as well as herders who distance themselves from the environmentally damaging mining practices. By examining narratives about industrialization and collectivization in the socialist era as well as the recent advent of the gold rush, the research concerned how notions of collectivity, responsibility and individualism were related to transformational historical processes and changing subsistence economies. Focusing on how people reconcile cosmological concepts related to the landscape with working practices that transgress fundamental taboos about the underground and water resources, moral commentaries and discourses of fear and suspicion highlighted people's negotiation of status and social interaction. The research demonstrates that emerging subsistence economies may not only be fuelled by economic incentives but also by particular socio-cultural mechanisms.
High, Mette M. 2013. Polluted Money, Polluted Wealth: Emerging Regimes of Value in the Mongolian Gold Rush. American Ethnologist 40(4):676-688.
High, Mette M. 2013. Cosmologies of Freedom and Buddhist Self-Transformation in the Mongolian Gold Rush. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(4):753-770.
Zhu, Jiangang, Chinese U. of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China - To aid research on 'Shanghai Lilong Neighborhood: An Ethnography of Civil Associations and Social Movements,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Bosco
JIANGANG ZHU, while a student at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China, was awarded a grant in August 2001 to aid research on 'Shanghai Lilong Nieghborhood: An Ethnography of Civil Associations and Social Movements,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Bosco. This research explored the civil associations and community movements in a lilong neighborhood in Shanghai since the 1980s. The central question was how these civil associations and social movements interact with neighborhood residents and with the local government in Shanghai. In order to answer this question, a neighborhood named Pingming Village was selected for ethnographic fieldwork.
Data was collected by doing volunteer work for the neighborhood committee, by participating in several community movements against the local government or real estate developers, and by becoming involved in several voluntary organizations. In one case, residents protested against a skyscraper that would hide the sunlight from older buildings. Residents protested to the developer, complained to the local government, and organized themselves to defend their rights. Though the study of protest movements in China is a sensitive issue, community issues at the local level are not seen as political but as 'social' problems. Long-term residence in the community permitted research on these movements, and leaders were glad to provide materials and to be interviewed to publicize their struggle. The research showed how state power penetrated into neighborhood life and how resistance in the community was intertwined with this state penetration. Some of the movements successfully fought state bureaus, but only by depoliticizing their actions and allying themselves with other state bureaus. Because of the limits imposed by state hegemony, these associations and collective actions cannot build an independent civil society. However, they weave relations of trust, create networks of engagement, and improve the norm of reciprocity. When democratization is on the agenda these civil associations and movements may provide the social capital for this transformation.
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.
Cleghorn, Naomi E., State U. of New York, Stony Brook, NY - To aid a 'Zooarchaeological Analysis of the Middle and Upper Paleolithic of Mezmaiskaya Cave, Northwestern Caucasus, Russia,' supervised by Dr. Curtis Marean
NAOMI E. CLEGHORN, while a student at the State University of New York in Stony Brook, New York, received funding in April 2001 to aid an analysis of faunal material from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic strata of Mezmaiskaya Cave in Russia's northwestern Caucasus Mountains, under the supervision of Dr. Curtis Marean. The stratigraphy of Mezmaiskaya Cave preserves a record of frequent hominid occupation over a relatively long span of the Paleolithic-from more than 45,000 years ago to 28,000 years ago-covering the transition from a Neanderthal-dominated to a Homo sapiens-dominated landscape. Faunal skeletal remains are abundant and well preserved throughout the site. Cleghorn collected a broad range of data from specimens from the Middle Paleolithic levels of the site, especially from the 1995 and 1997 assemblages, which came from contexts of relatively fine stratification. She also collected data for the entire sample of Upper Paleolithic faunal material available at the time. Altogether, data from nearly seventeen thousand bone fragments and teeth enabled her to analyze pre- and post-depositional processes of destruction as well as evidence of hominid prey choice, transport, and butchery decisions. Cleghorn's goal was to use a taphonomic approach to test the idea that Middle and Upper Paleolithic hominids responded in significantly different ways to subsistence challenges. Preliminary analysis showed some evidence of change in faunal accumulation between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. Interestingly, the more dramatic shifts may have occurred within the late Middle Paleolithic. Ultimately, Cleghorn planned to test current models of the subsistence behavior of Middle and Upper Paleolithic hominids.
Rock, Joeva S., American U., Washington, DC - To aid research on ''Our Stomachs are Being Colonized!' Constructions and Practices of Food Sovereignty in Ghana,' supervised by Dr. William Leap
Preliminary abstract: My research asks: how do food sovereignty NGOs negotiate between government discourses and the meanings and uses of food in the communities within which they work? Recent economic and climatic shifts have placed incredible pressure on Ghana's foodways and farmers. To address such challenges, Ghanaian activists and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have advocated for food sovereignty, a framework that concerns people's rights to produce, consume and market healthy, 'culturally appropriate' foods through local, sustainable agricultural practices. Beginning in 2012, food sovereignty activists and NGOs mobilized in opposition to industrial agricultural schemes such as the US Feed the Future initiative, which use expensive, environmentally-unfriendly technologies (e.g. high nitrate fertilizers and GMOs). Such programs often posit food as a commodity for production and consumption, an approach which scholars and activists alike have argued overlooks the cultural components and social meanings attached to food. In Ghana, these meanings vary across geography and ethnicity. Here, food becomes a marker of resistance, and stands at the nexus of international economic and development institutions, debates of sovereignty, global order, and socio-cultural preservation. Thus, my research approaches food sovereignty advocacy vertically, and simultaneously considers the way food sovereignty NGOs navigate between the communities in which they work and the state structures within which they are situated.
Hale-Gallardo, Jennifer, U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'From Curanderos to Traditional Therapists: Institutionalizing Traditional Healing in Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Stacey A. Langwick
JENNIFER HALE-GALLARDO, then a student at University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'From Curanderos to Traditional Therapists: Institutionalizing Traditional Healing in Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Stacey A. Langwick. This research project comprised a nuanced examination of the cultural politics involved in integrating Nahua healers into state programs in the northern mountains of Puebla in order to understand what's at stake for healers as they live out their inclusion in 'traditional medicine' government initiatives. To this end, she conducted in-depth interviewing and participant observation with healers, as well as interviewed and observed their interactions with biomedical physicians, hospital administrators, and state agents. Mapping the shifting ethical and political terrain that Nahua healers must navigate in contemporary initiatives for fomenting local healing practices, Hale-Gallardo documented the different kinds of moral regulation healers are subjected to which require them to critically negotiate their participation in such projects. She finds that despite the projects' many contradictions, Nahua healers find much recompense: alongside the satisfaction they receive from helping patients is an unprecedented recognition offered them and a new status as subjects in a global discourse on traditional medicine that promises to put these rural healers in out-of-the-way places on the map.
Weir, James M., City U. of New York, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Popular Social Practices in the Context of Conflict: Chess, Music, and Gardening in Herat, Afghanistan,' supervised by Dr. Vincent Crapanzano
JAMES M. WEIR, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received funding in May 2004 to aid research on 'Popular Social Practices in the Context of Conflict: Chess, Music, and Gardening in Herat, Afghanistan,' supervised by Dr. Vincent Crapanzano. This study presents the life stories of five 'ordinary'Afghans and examines the processes of self-presentation and self-identification in these narratives for what they reveal about the speaker's experience of recent Afghan history. This project queries these life stories at two distinctly different levels. The first is an existential/phenomenological reflection on the process of life narration itself. This is an examination of narrators as they engage their memories to spontaneously create a life story and asks what meanings and patterns emerge from this process of remembering, editing, summarizing and representing a life. The second level of examination explores the individual narrator's relationship to and interpretation of the historical and cultural context of his life. In comments interspersed in the text of the actual interviews and at greater length after each interview, this study considers the dispositions and sensibilities of individual Afghans as they recall and summarize their lives, with particular attention to the expectations and disappointments expressed as they recount their experiences of living through three troubled decades of Afghan history.
London, Douglas Stuart, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Hunter-Gatherers and Dietary Double-Edged Swords: Food as Medicine among the Waorani Foragers of Amazonian Ecuador,' supervised by Dr. Takeyuki Tsuda
DOUGAS S. LONDON, then a student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, was awarded a grant in October 2009, to aid research on 'Hunter-Gatherers and Dietary Double-Edged Swords: Food as Medicine among the Waorani Foragers of Amazonian Ecuador,' supervised by Dr. Takeyuki Tsuda. The study used an evolutionary health model to compare and evaluate the relationship between food systems and health across two Ecuadorian Amazon indigenous groups: the last true Waorani hunter-gatherer group in Ecuador, and the other a remote neighboring Kichwa indigenous community practicing subsistence agriculture in the same rain forest. Ancient ethnic food systems such as those of the Waorani forager population may not only be nutritionally but also pharmaceutically beneficial because of high dietary intake of varied plant defense secondary chemical compounds. An agricultural diet reducing these dietary plant defense antibodies below levels typical in human evolutionary history may leave humans vulnerable to diseases that were controlled through a foraging diet. Data included medical examinations, lab tests, anthropometric measurements, public health data, dietary surveys, food system surveys, and participant observation of the foods systems. There was an absence of many infectious diseases in the Waorani forager population common to the Kichwa and other neighboring isolated Amazonian indigenous subsistence agriculture populations. For instance, in the forager group there were no signs of infection in serious wounds (third-degree burns and spear wounds) and the foragers had a one degree Fahrenheit lower average body temperature than the Kichwa farmers.
London, Douglas. 2014. Helminths and Human Ancestral Immune Ecology: What Is the Evidence for High Helminth Loads among Foragers? American Journal of Human Biology. (Published online: DOI 10.1002/ajhb.22503).
Butler, Ella Patricia, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Producing Taste: Expertise and the Senses in the US Processed Food Industry,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Masco
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates scientific concepts of taste and sensory experience in the processed food industry in the United States. It examines how scientists develop research into the senses in order to find ways to make 'health and wellness' products palatable to the tastes of American consumers. In this context of innovation in both commodities and scientific knowledge, the project asks how scientific concepts of the senses are being transformed at the same moment that new commodities are made possible. To explore this question, the project is an ethnographic study of the work of three kinds of professionals most concerned with the sensory experience of processed food products: food scientists, flavor scientists and sensory evaluation scientists.
Posecznick, Alex, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Recruiting Through Open Doors: On the (Im-)Possibility of College Admission in America,' supervised by Dr. Herve Varenne
ALEX POSECZNICK, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on Recruiting through Open Doors: On the (Im-)Possibility of College Admission in America,' supervised by Dr. Herve Varenne. This project examined the ways that college policies, practices, and talk about college admission shapes the admission at a non-elite post-secondary institution. Although elite universities are clearly involved in the construction of meritocracy, this research examined how it is mediated through neoliberal bureaucracies at all levels of life in America. Having survived a series of enrollment 'crises' that led to the layoffs of over 100 staff, the college in which this research took place was instructive in the examination of enrollment trends in competitive landscapes. The grantee spent twelve months in participant observation in recruitment, open houses, interviewing, application reviews, marketing meetings, and event management at a small, non-elite, private college's Office of Admission, and drew upon archival and visual methods in the analysis of nearly 3500 pages of documents. The grantee interviewed great numbers of informants, including Admission staff, executives, Board members, faculty, Deans, program directors, and stakeholders about the many and various interpretations of the college, its history, and its current state. Ethnographic examination of an office of admission demonstrated the ways that massive and powerful bureaucracies, policies, and institutions hegemonically interpret, evaluate, and act upon persons in America, producing and reproducing measurable differences that reinforce neoliberal, meritocratic models of the individual. The research emphasized the complex and contested understandings of students and bureaucratic processes. As the students at the college in which this research took place were overwhelmingly people of color, this study further reveals how kinds of diversity were displayed in order to be meaningful to a bureaucracy and with what consequences.