Makram-Ebeid, Dina Waguih, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Steel Lives Under Neo-liberalism: Everyday Politics of Labour in Helwan, Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan P. Parry
DINA W. MAKRAM-EBEID, then a student at London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in April 2009 to aid research on 'Steel Lives Under Neo-liberalism: Everyday Politics of Labor in Helwan, Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan P. Parry. This grant supported the second half of a research project focusing on steel workers in one of Egypt's oldest public-owned plants in Helwan governorate. The researcher conducted ethnographic fieldwork on two shop-floors inside the steel plant and among workers' community in the neighboring 'Company Town.' The ethnographic investigation highlighted how workers and their households incorporate the drastic changes in industrial policies, which occurred over the past two decades, into their everyday lives. The research findings suggest that the new work conditions in the plant and living conditions in the Company Town are creating new relations among various groups of workers and between workers and management. These new relations, for example, between young workers employed casually and old workers with stable contracts; production and maintenance workers, and workers and engineers, in turn, influence the work culture of the plant and the values that are (re-) produced among the community of workers. This research thus, encourages linking the analysis of wider changes in community relations and values to the shifting conditions of work worldwide.
Bordia, Devika, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Local Governance Through Panchayats: Indigeneity, Law, and Sovereignty in Western India,' supervised by Dr. Thomas B. Hansen
DEVIKA BORDIA, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Local Governance through Panchayats: Indigeneity, Law, and Sovereignty in Western India,' supervised by Dr. Thomas B. Hansen. This project examines the relationship between legal and governmental institutions of the state, tribal panchayats, local community institutions. The grantee conducted fieldwork in the 'tribal' region of Southern Udaipur, Western India, tracing cases related to murder, violence, land claims and domestic disputes. The ways in which these cases were addressed involved complex negotiations between leaders of tribal panchayats, the police, lawyers and magistrates. This revealed how supposedly distinct legal systems are in effect a range of overlapping institutions, actors, artifacts and languages that evoke various formations of individual and community. Articulations of crime and violence within legal codes, though abstracted from local contexts for the sake of objectivity, are reflective of people and place and assume certain ideas of what it means to be 'tribal.' The project also examines the way in which language and ideas of the law weave into the fabric of everyday life and are used by leaders of panchayats in their work of dispute resolution. The grantee conducted extensive interviews and traveled with local leaders to understand the different ways they gain visibility and derive legitimacy. An examination of state organizations, NGOs and different social movements demonstrate how ideas of indigeneity are generated through their work, and the ways these ideas find their way into every day legal processes.
Rosenbaum, Susanna, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Domestic Economics: Immigrant Women, Middle-Class Employers, and Household Work,' supervised by Dr. Faye D. Ginsburg
SUSANNA ROSENBAUM, while a student at New York University in New York, New York, received funding in June 2002 to aid research on immigrant women, middle-class employers, and household work in Los Angeles, California, under the supervision of Dr. Faye D. Ginsburg. During a year of fieldwork, Rosenbaum examined the ways in which both employers and employees experienced domestic service in order to provide a more complete picture of this institution as it affected the lives of all parties. She asked how broader processes of globalization had affected both immigrants and non-immigrants in Los Angeles and how they had compelled both groups to redefine notions of household, family, motherhood, work, personal fulfillment, and femininity. These once immutable concepts had become sources of anxiety through economic transformations, generational changes, the experience of migration, and domestic service. Rosenbaum approached employers and employees separately by attending meetings of their organizations, spending time with members in their homes, and meeting additional people through members' social networks. Among employees, she began with a housecleaners' cooperative and an association seeking to organize domestic workers. On the employer side, she started with a networking organization for working women and a local affiliate of a national mothers' group. By conducting participant observation, tracking social networks, conducting interviews, and taking life histories, Rosenbaum analyzed how both employers and employees grappled with uncertainties and reworked previous concepts through daily practice and narrative.
Gibbings, Sheri Lynn, U. of Toronto, ON, Canada - To aid research on 'Building a Street, Building a Nation: Architecture, Urban Space, and National Belonging on Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta, Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Tania Murray Li
SHERI GIBBINGS, then a student at University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, received funding in October 2006 to investigate 'Building a Street, Building a Nation: Architecture, Urban Space and National Belonging on Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta, Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Tania Li. This research examines street vendors and their relationship to the state in three sites of conflict, which are differently invested with meaning. Research activities included participant observation, interviews, and archival research among street vendors, their organizations, as well with government officials. Ethnographic fieldwork was carried out for sixteen months between 2006 and 2008. Findings reveal that the street vendors, on one hand, stand for failed modernity but on the other hand, they comment upon and critique the fantasy of modernity and development that pervades city planning. Street vendors have also become increasingly a site of government concern, which has made them the object of an increasing number of projects to control, discipline, and monitor their activities. Findings indicate that street vendors are involved in a larger set of contestations: political battles over urban planning; debates over modernity; and the struggle to solidify budding radical politics.
Yang, Xiaoliu, Sun Yat-Sen U., Guangzhou, China - To aid research on 'Making Participatory Poverty Reduction Chinese,' supervised by Dr. Daming Zhou
XIALIU YANG, then a student at Sun Yet-sen University, Guangzhou, China, received funding in January 2006 to aid research on 'Making Participatory Development Chinese,' supervised by Prof. Daming Zhou. The fieldwork was conducted in Meigu county, an impoverished, Nuosu ethnic region in Sichuan Province, Southwest China. The grantee did fieldwork from February to December 2006 to study how the Western 'participation' in China's rural poverty reduction is made Chinese. Research focused on three Western projects in a Nuosu village -- from the World Bank, the United Nations Children's Fund, and Germany's Misereor Foundation -- to observe how 'participation' is made Chinese at different stages of the project cycle. Support enabled a multi-level investigation to collect information identifying key stakeholders involved in the delivery of Western participatory aid, including state and local government, international aid organizations, Chinese scholars, and indigenous people.
Latea, Daniel, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Debt and Duty in Postsocialist Romania,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery
DANIEL LATEA, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Debt and Duty in Postsocialist Romania,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery. Since the privatization of the Romanian retail commerce in 1989, large numbers of people have started buying consumer goods without paying on the spot; this occurs in the absence of any legal provisions. They refer to this practice using the vocabulary of 'debt' (datorie): 'selling on debt' and 'buying on debt.' In contrast, Romanian notions and practices of 'credit' and 'debit' generally denote formal bank transactions. Debt relations are marked by the absence of interest, security, witnesses, formal agreements, evident means of sanctioning defaulters, as well as an elastic duration of repayment. Drawing on sixteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in rural Oltenia (southern Romania), the grantee studied the unfolding of social relations of debt and duty in commercial and other social settings as a crucial instance of the local production of social orders. The project describes the negotiation of debts in terms of the tempo and sequencing of interactions. Acceptable motives or excuses are more convincing to the extent they constitute shared temporalities and moralities -- past, present or future situations, events and relations. Mastering the arts of delay requires continuous effort, creativity and often recalcitrance to state formalities. Moreover, it emphasizes the immense work that people put into rendering debt and duty relations ordinary.
Baig, Noman, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Capital-extraction: Esoteric Islam, Counter-terrorist Surveillance, and Corporate Finance in Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Kamran Ali
Preliminary abstract: Since the early 1990s, Pakistan's economic policies have been geared towards integrating unregulated money circulation with global financial networks by privatizing banks, developing capital markets, micro-credit lending, and attracting foreign exchange (Nasim 1992). However, after 9/11, under the rubric of security and counter-terrorism, the Pakistani state has further intensified its efforts to discipline vernacular financial practices, particularly the informal money transfer system, generating tensions among local merchants and impacting laborers sending remittance to their country of origin. Against this backdrop, I will conduct an ethnographic study of Bolton Market (in Karachi, Pakistan) to investigate the confluences and cultural-political consequences arising from esoteric Islamic practices, the state's counter-terrorist surveillance, and emerging corporate finance. Moreover, my central argument is that there is a close convergence between the state's counter-terrorist efforts and the way it promotes corporate interests in Pakistan. Conventionally, Pakistan is studied through the over-exhaustive tropes of terrorism, violence, and ethnicity. This research will offer theoretical analysis of emerging cultural forms shaped by competing financial models. Although grounded in Pakistan, my research speaks to a growing body of anthropological work on occult economies, finance, and security as they relate to market forces, globalization, and neoliberalism.
Potts, Kevin, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Ecological and Dietary Diversity Among the Chimpanzees of Kibale National Park, Uganda,' supervised by Dr. David P. Watts
KEVIN POTTS, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in June 2005 to aid research on 'Ecological and Dietary Diversity among the Chimpanzees of Kibale National Park, Uganda,' supervised by Dr. David P. Watts. Kibale National Park, Uganda, supports a large population of chimpanzees unevenly distributed among social groups, such that different groups inhabiting areas separated by as little as 10-12 kilometers vary in size by a magnitude of three or more. Such dramatic intra-population variability is unusual, and suggests that fine-scale ecological heterogeneity may profoundly impact chimpanzee ecology. In this study, two primary questions were addressed: 1) what is the extent of ecological heterogeneity within Kibale relevant to chimpanzees; and 2) how might this heterogeneity be influencing the noted differences in chimpanzee community size within the forest? Behavioral observations were undertaken at two sites (Ngogo and Kanyawara) inhabited by 150 and 50 chimpanzees, respectively, to assess differences in foraging efficiency among the members of the two communities. Additionally, botanical sampling was conducted to quantify the degree of within-forest heterogeneity that may be relevant to chimpanzee ecology. Preliminary results suggest that Ngogo, the site of the large community, supports a relatively high abundance of plant species showing high inter-individual fruiting synchrony and tending to produce fruits eaten by chimpanzees during times of low overall fruit abundance, which may provide an important component of temporal reliability to the resource base at this site. Perhaps correspondingly, individuals at Ngogo appear to have higher foraging efficiency on average than their Kanyawara counterparts. These results provide important information regarding the influence of small-scale resource heterogeneity in influencing chimpanzee behavioral ecology and population dynamics.
Feliciano-Santos, Sherina, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Taíno Language and Cultural Revival: An Ethnographic Study of Language Ideologies in Emerging Language Varieties,' supervised by Dr. Barbra Allyn Meek
SHERINA FELICIANO-SANTOS, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'Taino Language and Cultural Revival: An Ethnographic Study of Ideologies, Emerging Language Practices, and Relatedness,' supervised by Dr. Barbara A. Meek. This research considers what is at stake in claiming and establishing a contemporary Taíno identity in Puerto Rico. Considering that Taíno peoples conventionally have been presumed to be extinct -- according to widely circulating historical narratives of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean -- this study provides a grounded analysis of the face-to-face interactions involved in actively affirming and organizing around an extant Taíno heritage. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among four Taíno organizations, this research found that group recruitment and maintenance strategies were reflected in the emergence of distinctive Taíno linguistic practices. This study is concerned with how these emerging linguistic practices relate to the building of distinctive authorizing and legitimizing routines, the differentiation of Taíno groups and the production of relatedness among Taíno peoples. This analysis of the everyday social interactions involved in the recruitment and maintenance of Taíno groups in Puerto Rico shows how emergent practices of constructing relatedness may complicate social as well as sociolinguistic landscapes. This project, though focused on Taíno resurgence, applies to any context wherein people are redefining themselves by reconfiguring their relatedness to each other by institutionalizing or de-regimenting different modes of belonging.
Vinea, Ana Maria, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Between the Psyche and the Soul: Mental Disorders, Quranic Healing and Psychiatry in Contemporary Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Talal Asad
ANA VINEA, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Between the Psyche and the Soul: Mental Disorders, Quranic Healing and Psychiatry in Contemporary Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Talal Asad. This project explored questions of affliction and well-being, as well of the relation between science and religion as they are configured in the contemporary Egyptian field of 'mental disorders.' It has ethnographically examined two therapeutic practices - biomedical psychiatry and Quranic healing, both employed by suffering Egyptians. It has also analyzed the debates between these two groups of practitioners. Approaching these therapeutic practices as forms of knowledge about the human, the researcher investigated the techniques employed by psychiatrists and Quranic healers to construct their knowledge, as well as the concepts of affliction, causality, and reality articulated and enacted in their practices. She also examined the styles of reasoning and ways of invoking authority used by psychiatrists and Quranic healers. The evidence collected shows that in contemporary Egypt psychiatry gains authority by its state-authorization as the only legitimate way of treating mental disorders and by its 'scientific' status. However, psychiatry's etiology, diagnostic categories and treatment methods are contested by Quranic healers' practices. These practices, while themselves partly reconfigured by the encounter with psychiatry, continue to argumentatively engage with the Islamic tradition, providing different ways of understanding affliction and of being in the world.