Hartikainen, Elina Inkeri, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'From the Public Sphere to Spirit Speech: Negotiating Discourses of Africanness in Brazilian Candomblé,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein
ELINA INKERI HARTIKAINEN, then a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in May 2008, to aid research on 'From the Public Sphere to Spirit Speech: Negotiating Discourses of Africanness in Brazilian Candomblé,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein. This project examines how Candomblé practitioners in Salvador, Brazil, come together as self-reflexive religious publics around particular discursive configurations of African religiosity, religious intolerance and race. The study traces how the hierarchical social settings of the Candomblé religion and Brazilian society order the construction, uptake, and negotiation of public discourses on race and religion among Afro-Brazilian adherents of Candomblé. Closely examining public conferences and marchpes organized by religious practitioners, the every-day and ritual practices of Candomblé temples, and media portrayals of the religion (main-stream as well as alternative media produced by practitioners), the project explores how Candomblé adherents imagine and perform a religious public in addressing public discourses on their religion, Africanness, and race. Significantly, the grantee demonstrates how the formation of Candomblé publics relies not only on a shared orientation towards specific texts, but also particular religious dispositions towards discourse circulation. Thus, rather than an egalitarian public where discourse flows freely, Candomblé practitioners envision themselves participating in and contributing to Brazilian society and politics according to the 'African' principles of Candomblé; most importantly, a rigid ritual hierarchy that determines who can say what, when, and to whom, and a reliance on personalized oral communications over text and other broadcast media forms.
Woldekiros, Helina S., Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Archaeology of the Afar Salt Caravan Route of Northeastern Ethiopia,' supervised by Dr. Fiona Marshall
HELINA S. WOLDEKIROS, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Archaeology of the Afar Salt Caravan Route of Northeastern Ethiopia,' supervised by Dr. Fiona Marshall. In Africa, social, political, and economic structures have been shaped by salt production, distribution, and long-distance trade, in areas where salt is a critical resource. In Ethiopia, emphasis has been placed on Aksumite control of the Red Sea Trade (150 C.E.-C.E 700) and the trade in ivory, gold, perfume, and slaves rather than on local and regional trade in consumable commodities. Furthermore, scholars understand more about the geographic distribution of key resources than they do about other aspects of the archaeological record of ancient commodity flow -- such as procurement and transfer costs, or the material correlates of exchange activities -- that linked distribution centers. To address this issue, ethnoarchaeological research was carried out on the Afar salt caravan route in Northern Ethiopia, which focused on collection of information on the route and material traces of caravans to identify ancient use of the Afar trail. Major archaeological sites were identified on the salt route, and excavation of these sites revealed ancient bread-cooking stones similar to those characteristic of modern salt trader camps. Aksumite pottery and obsidian distinctive of the Afar were also identified, suggesting local or regional exchange in commodities from the Afar lowlands to the North Ethiopian plateau dating to as early as Aksumite (150 C.E-C.E 700) period.
Maldonado, Andrea, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Culture: The New Drug of Choice in Mexico City,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Gutmann
ANDREA MALDONADO, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Culture: The New Drug of Choice in Mexico City,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Gutmann. This dissertation explores new forms of state-sponsored care among low-income Mexicans in relation to the places where they surface and the interests fueling their support. Since 2002, an assortment of 'cultural therapies' (from yoga to tai chi) has emerged as Mexico's prescription of choice to prevent and treat what authorities identify as 'culturally transmitted diseases' (such as diabetes) among the urban poor. In Mexico City, these measures take shape in health institutes, cultural centers, parks, and streets. The growth of this campaign-which blames sickness on the culture of poor people and outsources their care to non-medical providers-raises questions about how states manage the production and circulation of knowledge in this nascent health arena, and why ordinary Mexicans subscribe to these policies. This study investigates the nuances and contradictions of this 'turn to culture,' suggesting that in spite of its appeal, it may be exacerbating aspects of inequality in public health. It reveals how the enactment of cultural healing in place encourages new techniques of self-care and new sites of social differentiation. Health services constituted outside clinical settings, but operating with institutional legitimacy, can generate new exchanges-even as they also engender novel practices of state and expert surveillance.
Castor, Nicole M., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Invoking the Spirit: Religion and the Politics of Nationhood in Trinidad,' supervised by Dr. Andrew H. Apter
NICOLE CASTOR, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in November 2002 to aid research on 'Invoking the Spirit: Religion and the Politics of Nationhood in Trinidad,' supervised by Dr. Andrew H. Apter. The project analyzed public culture, the performance of identity, and the role of race and diversity in relation to national identity in contemporary Trinidad through three consecutive years of field-based research on Afro-Trinidadian public ritual and festival events. Through case studies that followed festivals and rituals through an annual cycle of public culture, over a period from November 2002 to August 2005, Castor studied Orisha public ritual, Carnival fetes, and Emancipation celebrations as an investigation of the dynamics between culture, ritual, nation building and the construction of identity. Performative moments within festivals and rituals revealed complexities of race and ethnicity, destabilizing fixed notions of the Afro-Trinidadian. She also conducted numerous interviews, documented speeches, public ceremonies, and rituals through audio-visual media. This project generated an 'alternative' model of the public sphere that explores how the cultural production of identities takes place in public spaces, and how festival and ritual moments contribute to the building of the nation. In particular, Castor's research shows how in Trinidad race and class are mutually defining, lived, and embodied categories that are frequently performed, contested, and redefined.
Rathee, Vineet, McGill U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'Caste Panchayats of India: A Contemporary Study of Caste, Gender and the State in Rural India,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Lemons
Preliminary abstract: My project will study the role of extra-legal village caste councils (known as caste panchayats) in the formation of inter-caste and gender relations in Haryana, northern India. Typically controlled by powerful, territorially segmented, agrarian castes e.g. the Jats, Rajputs, and Ahirs, caste panchayats have recently come under intense scrutiny for orchestrating 'crimes of honor' and violence against low-caste members. Simplistically perceived as mere vestiges of 'traditional' caste sociality, caste panchayats are frequently characterized as products of hermetically closed-off, unchanging, endogenous caste forms. In contrast, I will study panchayats as modern socio-political organizations by situating them in the wider rural context of contemporary India, a context constituted by radical transformations of conditions of rural life, which have in turn profoundly reconfigured caste and gender relations. I inquire how caste panchayats have responded to such transformations of rural life and how these transformations affect their caste power and authority. In this regard, I aim to bring into sharp relief an expanding field of practices where caste panchayats' strategies of domination are being regularly challenged by low-caste groups. Further, by drawing upon the anthropological claim, which regards regulation of female sexuality and marriage as critical to reproduction of caste privilege, I will study how panchayats' violent enforcement of caste marriage norms--resulting in 'crimes of honor'--is an instance of performance of their caste authority over low-caste groups.
Gould, Sarah A., U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid 'An Ethnographic Study of Child Fosterage in Madagascar,' supervised by Dr. Michael Lambek
SARAH A. GOULD, while a student at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, received funding in May 2001 to aid an ethnographic study of child fosterage in northwestern Madagascar, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Lambek. Gould conducted her fieldwork during a period of political conflict following the presidential elections of 2001, during which two competing models of nationalism drew upon and reified the ideas of kinship, culture, ethnicity, and class underlying identity politics. Drawing on two themes-the fluidity of kinship and personhood in life and the fixity of descent among the dead in Madagascar-Gould focused on child fosterage as a means of elucidating the process of kinship and the flexibility and boundedness of identity. She investigated networks of kinship that reached from rural and urban areas in the province of Mahajanga to the capital city and overseas, focusing on children's roles within households and kinship networks and exploring how children's movements between households fit into wider patterns of exchange, reciprocity, and hierarchy. She also explored the innovative ways in which individuals enacted, negotiated, and transformed kinship ties in response to the socioeconomic demands of life in the region and considered the ways in which kinship, as moral practice, reflected and reproduced the principles of community. To answer questions of identity, she addressed patterns of child rearing, residence, and burial in relation to the meanings, uses, and practices of kinship and focused on the processes of incorporation and exclusion that created ties to kin and ancestors over a lifetime. Living with a Sakalava ruler, Gould also explored the ways in which metaphors of kinship in royal politics structured relations between subjects, rulers, and royal ancestors in a polyethnic setting.
Venkat, Bharat Jayram, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Paradoxes of Giving: The Business of Health in the Indian AIDS Crisis,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence M. Cohen
BHARAT J. VENKAT, then a graduate student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Paradoxes of Giving: The Business of Health in the Indian AIDS Crisis,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence M. Cohen. The last fifteen years have witnessed a renaissance of philanthropic giving reminiscent of the early twentieth century. In India, much of this money had gone towards the funding of HIV prevention and treatment programs. However, recent epidemiological surveys conducted by both private foundations and the Indian government revealed that HIV in India had not taken on the proportions of the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. This research examined how funding in India began to dry up, how decisions were made about where to re-investment resources, how accounting was conducted for already spent funds, and how conceptions of impact were both measured and made. In a broader sense, this work looked at how practices of business became central to practices of public health, and how these very same business principles were used to justify the ending of HIV/AIDS funding by philanthropic organizations and international health bodies. Fieldwork with philanthropic organizations in Delhi, as well as with government agencies, NGOs, and hospitals in Chennai, provided multiple entry points across various scales into the ways in which funding was being actively reorganized within the context of what appears to be an epidemiologically stabilizing and biologically mutating epidemic.
Lee, Courtney Anne, U. of Colorado, Denver, CO - To aid research on 'The Impact of Medical Tourism on Health Care in Costa Rica,' supervised by Dr. Stephen Koester
COURTNEY ANNE LEE, then a student at the University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, was awarded a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'The Impact of Medical Tourism on Health Care in Costa Rica,' supervised by Dr. Stephen Koester. Based on a year of ethnographic fieldwork, this research explores the development of Costa Rica as a medical tourist destination for Americans seeking low cost, high quality medical care. This dissertation project seeks to understand the social, political, economic, and moral implications that the growth of medical tourism -- as a manifestation of larger neoliberal changes in Latin America -- has for the existing socialized health care system in Costa Rica, and the ways in which medical tourism affects how Costa Ricans think about health care delivery and state responsibility for health care. The global medical tourism industry represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about health care provision, and yet its impacts on local health care access remain virtually unexamined. This research addresses the ideological tensions and contradictions that surround medical tourism as the lines between conceptions of health care as local and global, socialist and capitalist, public and private blur to accommodate this emerging industry. This study is one of the first to take seriously local perceptions, understandings, and engagements with medical tourism. Grounded in the experiences of Costa Rican health care providers, educators, policy makers and locals, this paper tells the story of a system in flux.
Bou Akar, Hiba, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Rebuilding the Center, Expanding the Frontier: Reconstructing Post-War(s) Beirut, Lebanon' supervised by Dr. Teresa P. Caldeira
HIBA BOU AKAR, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, received a grant in May 2009, to aid research on 'Rebuilding the Center, Expanding the Frontier: Reconstructing Post-War(s) Beirut, Lebanon,' supervised by Dr. Teresa Caldeira. The project investigates the articulation of planning practices with militarization, war, and political difference in shaping the everyday geographies of Beirut, Lebanon. The project positions religious-political actors as central to the restructuring of cities, particularly those in conflict by studying the roles such organizations have had in the production of urban space in three peripheral neighborhoods in Beirut, and the implications of such practices on the everyday spatiality of war and violence. Over a 15-month period, through observations, interviews, and archival research, the project examined the role that religious-political organizations have played in shaping urban planning and zoning schemes, building laws, housing and land markets, and the planning of infrastructure projects, as they intersect with the spatiality of the everyday 'talk of war.' Emerging from this project as well is a study of how geographies of warfare have been intertwined with the history of planning in Lebanon, along with a reflection on the methodological problematic of doing ethnographic research in volatile areas.
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.