Rahman, Rhea Bonita, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Translating Faith into Action: Islamic Relief in Mali,' supervised by Dr. Hugh Raffles
Preliminary abstract: This project proposes a novel perspective of transnational Islamic NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa. It is an ethnographic investigation of the globally renowned UK-based Islamic NGO - Islamic Relief Worldwide in Mali. The research takes as its central concern the ways in which Islamic aid is brought about through the effects of multiple factors and motivating logics. It asks the ways in which notions of development, humanitarianism, and Islam are brought together in new ways through the practices of Islamic Relief in Mali. Given preoccupations in the administrative branches of IRW regarding the defining and execution of a development and humanitarianism that is based Islamic teachings, this project asks how such concerns relate to specific practices in the context of Mali, where IRW delivers aid? How much, if at all, do these tensions also frame everyday orientations and activities in the service-delivery setting of Mali? And, reciprocally, how might we understand the ways that operating in Mali, given its recent history of reform movements and changing ideas of religious practice and authority, reconfigure these concerns back in the UK? Research will be conducted in both Mali and in the world-wide headquarters in Birmingham, to illuminate the transnational movement of IRW's ethically-motivated development, humanitarian, and Islamic practices.
Galemba, Rebecca B., Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Contesting Security: Everyday Crossings at the Mexico - Guatemala Border,' supervised by Dr. Kay Warren
REBECCA B. GALEMBA, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, was awarded funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Contesting Security: Everyday Crossings at the Mexico-Guatemala Border,' supervised by Dr. Kay Warren. On a section of the Mexico-Guatemala border, a clandestine three-mile road connects Chiapas, Mexico to Huehuetenango, Guatemala. While in the past this border passage was officially monitored, since the mid-1990s five small cross-border communities along this road began to assert their ownership over the route. These communities prohibit the entrance of state authorities, and assert their own rights to charge tolls, or what they call 'taxes.' In contrast to corrupt state officials, the residents here proclaim themselves the rightful and ethical border authorities. Yet these locals must negotiate their authority to control the border with officials from both states, as well as with cross-border smugglers, migrants, social organizations, farmers, consumers, and national and international companies. This dissertation examines how border residents in their interactions with other border actors, at times reproduce, contest, or reconfigure the border and state powers. It challenges the uncritical conflation of legality and ethics at an international border crossing, highlighting the politics and competing views that underlie the construction of legality and morality there. Legality is revealed as a fluid, relational concept that provides a lens through which to examine how nationality, class, community, and notions of ethics and rights are constructed at the border.
Galemba, Rebecca B. 2013. 'Corn is Food, Not Contraband': The Right to 'Free Trade' at the Mexico-Guatemala Border. American Ethnologist 39(4):716-734.
Walker, Joshua Daniel Lee Zaks, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Crisis or Reconstruction? Street Children and Diamond Miners in Mbujimayi, Democratic Republic of Congo,' supervised by Dr. Jean Comaroff
JOSHUA WALKER, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in October 2009 to aid research on 'Crisis or Reconstruction? Street Children and Diamond Miners in Mbujimayi, Democratic Republic of Congo,' supervised by Dr. Jean Comaroff. This research in the diamond mining town of Mbujimayi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, examined the lives and livelihoods of two socially marginalized groups of young people: street children and artisanal diamond miners. It asked how they create futures and fashion themselves as 'responsible' adults amidst precarious socio-economic circumstances borne of a declining diamond economy. The research found, first, that while they are often seen by the public as a menace to future social order, they in fact are following new pathways that participate in 'traditionally' valued forms of social reproduction. Second, the context of decline creates a situation in which these pathways themselves are often shaped by an inability to imagine wealth creation beyond diamonds, which attests to how the diamond commodity and Mbujimayi's dependence on it have foreshortened the imagination of different kinds of wealth creation. Finally, changes in the structure of diamond labor (from employees working for an industrial mining company to artisanal diggers) also have an impact on the temporality of everyday life, in which the inherent precarity of artisanal mining truncates the possibility of imagining futures even as they are being created in practice.
Kohrt, Brandon Alan, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Wounded Hearts, Wounded Minds: The Embodiment of Trauma in Nepal,' supervised by Dr. Carol Marie Worthman
BRANDON A. KOHRT, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Wounded Hearts, Wounded Minds: The Embodiment of Trauma in Nepal,' supervised by Dr. Carol Worthman. This research examined psychological trauma associated with the Maoist revolution in Nepal. The research involved three areas. First, Nepali conceptions of mental health and mind-body connections were investigated. Contrary to most literature, which suggests that mind-body are not seen as separate in Asian contexts, this study revealed that there is a tripartite division of body, heart-mind (the center of emotion and memory), and brain-mind (the center of social control and decision-making). Individuals with psychological trauma seen as originating in the brain-mind suffered the greatest stigma. The second area of research investigated the change in mental health as a result of the Maoist revolution. Three hundred individuals were interviewed in 2000 prior to the outbreak of Maoist violence and again in 2007 after the People's War ended. Anxiety increased from 26.2% to 47.7% and was associated with exposure to war-related trauma. However, depression did not increase significantly (30.9% to 40.6%) when accounting for aging, and levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were 14.1%. The third research was an investigation of the stress hormone cortisol. Among men, cortisol levels were associated with severity of mental health problems. However, among women, cortisol levels were associated with trauma exposure.
Kohrt, Brandon. 2008. Navigating Diagnoses: Understanding Mind-Body Relations, Mental Health, and Stigma in Nepal. Cult Med Psychiatry 32:462-491
Bachand, Holly S., U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Formative Mesoamerican Cylinder Seals and Stamps: A Study of Their Function and Meaning,' supervised by Dr. Rosemary A. Joyce
HOLLY S. BACHAND, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in July 2002 to aid research on 'Formative Mesoamerican Cylinder Seals and Stamps: A Study of their Function and Meaning,' supervised by Dr. Rosemary A. Joyce. It has long been assumed in Mesoamerica that Formative period cylinder seals and stamps were used to paint the body or textiles worn on the body. The objective of this research was to investigate the form, manufacture, iconography, and contexts of these objects to make inferences about social identity and cultural interaction, since practices like bodily adornment are closely tied to people's social identities. The sample of 321 specimens, from publicly held collections in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize was photographed, measured, and drawn. Manufacturing methods were noted, and where possible ceramic paste and temper were described. Additionally, 47 pigment residue samples were taken and identified using a polarized light microscope. There are many correlates in design and iconography that suggest widespread networks across Mesoamerica. Yet the majority of stamps and seals exhibit manufacture and design features that are clearly of local invention. Distribution patterns indicate that the practice probably diffused from the Valley of Mexico, where the longest and most vibrant tradition of cylinder-seal use exists. Nevertheless, there is nothing prototypical about the styles and designs of stamps and seals either within or beyond the Valley of Mexico. This diversity implies diverse agents and networks were involved in the spread of the practices and the manufacture of these objects.
Park, Seo Young, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Making Time in the 24-hour City: Gender, Labor, and Experiment in Seoul's Dongdaemun Market,' supervise by Dr. William Michael Maurer
SEO YOUNG PARK, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, received a grant in October 2008 to aid research on 'Making Time in the 24-hour City: Gender, Labor, and Experiment in Seoul's Dongdaemun Market,' supervise by Dr. William Maurer. This project investigates the ways in which time is experienced and produced by differently positioned subjects in the Dongdaemun Market in Seoul. By exploring the place-making and market-making practices that 'speed up' and also 'slow down' the time in the Market, this research aims to understand the contested emergence of 24-hour cities in Korea. A sprawling complex that encompasses assembly plants, wholesale stores, retail shopping malls, and entertainment centers, dongdaemun exemplifies the rapid transformation of Seoul. Once viewed as a place of arduous manual labor, Dongdaemun is now imagined as an attractive 24-hour operating space, where high-speed transnational production and consumption take place simultaneously. The grantee conducted 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Seoul, working with the market-making agents of Dongdaemun: factory laborers, designers, entrepreneurs, and NGO workers. By investigating their practices in and narratives of Dongdaemun, this study analyzes how intimate circuits unfold in their struggles over time, their working spaces, and their own creativity in various registers of garment making. The project suggests that it is not only the workers' intensive labor but also their bodily presence and intimate engagement with the clothes, people, and skills that materialize the 'speed' of production and circulation and yet contest the abstract notion of speed.
Takamine, Linda Hiromi, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Alcoholism and Recovery as Everyday Practice,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
LINDA H. TAKAMINE, then a graduate student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Alcoholism and Recovery as Everyday Practice,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. How do some alcoholics manage to stop drinking? This research focuses on participants in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in a metropolitan area in Texas. This project approaches sobriety from alcoholism as an ongoing practice in which recovering alcoholics cultivate a virtuous disposition, or a sensitivity as to how to act in an ethical manner in day-to-day life. Through interactions with other AA members, alcoholics learn to recognize their thoughts, emotions, and actions as signs of either 'character defects' indicative of alcoholism (such as self-will) or of 'virtues' indicative of sobriety (such as honesty). Sobriety entails a fundamental and pervasive reworking of their lives, including family, sexual relationships, and work, among other things. The researcher observed practical activities in everyday settings, conducted semi-structured interviews, and analyzed face-to-face interactions to explore three research areas: 1) the extent to which alcohol use was intertwined with practices in multiple domains of everyday life; 2) socialization into AA's practices; and 3) how alcoholics habitually comported themselves within everyday worlds of work, family, and the like prior to sobriety, and the material conditions under which they are or are not able to conduct themselves according to AA's ethics.
Johnson, Alix Barrie, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'From Financial Hub to Information Haven: Icelandic Information Economies, Technofutures and National Dreams,' supervised by Dr. Lisa Rofel
Preliminary abstract: The financial crisis of 2008 devastated Iceland's economy and destabilized its sense of identity: having quickly become one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it suddenly looked powerless and peripheral again. Projects of economic recovery, then, also require national re-imagining. This project asks how Icelanders are re-making senses of self, place, and future in the wake of the crisis, by following one major project of national and economic revival: an effort to make Iceland an 'information haven'. By building data centers, founding start-ups, and passing 'information-friendly' legislation, Icelanders hope to carve out a new niche and attract global data to Iceland's shores. The project has sparked discussion and debate on what kind of place Iceland is and will be: a connected, cosmopolitan and tech-savvy data center? Or once again an outpost, the digital equivalent of an offshore bank? By following the process of re-inventing Iceland as an 'information haven,' I trace these national imaginaries as they are materially made.
Natarajan, Venkatesan, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Power of Memory: Transitional Justice and the Aftermath of Argentina's Dirty War,' supervised by Dr. Sally Engle Merry
RAM NATARAJAN, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'The Power of Memory: Transitional Justice and the Aftermath of Argentina's Dirty War,' supervised by Dr. Sally Merry. This project is a study of human rights movements, law, and military soldiers in the context of contemporary Argentine dictatorship trials, one of the most lionized, discussed, and circulated forms of judicial responses to Latin American authoritarian regimes. It is about how efforts to prosecute violence committed during the 1976-1983 Argentine military rule become implicated with and generate new forms of violence, and about how the legal construction of categories of perpetrators is so shaped by social forces that such construction is never simply about identifying who is responsible for a crime. It draws from twenty months of fieldwork with retired and convicted military men; women and men affiliated with human rights' victim groups; and employees of the Argentine state judiciary system to ask what happens to these individuals' senses of self, social relationships, and national belonging, once the Argentine executive, legislative, and judicial branches began enforcing and instituting a new understanding of the past. This research helps shed light on why closure in the aftermath of political violence becomes, in the context of Argentina, a national impossibility.