Daniell, Rachel Jean, Graduate Center, City U. of New York, New York, NY -To aid research on 'Documenting Contested Pasts: The Production of History and the U.S. 'War on Terror',' supervised by Dr. Victoria Sanford
Preliminary abstract: What is at stake in producing historical knowledge about state violence when that violence has taken place in the very recent past? As controversial state actions move into the realm of historical representation, they are made legible in different ways: reworked into narratives, organized into archives, incorporated into public history projects, and written as textbook accounts. This project proposes an investigation of these history-making practices at their very inception through an analysis of emerging historical memory of controversial practices under the George W. Bush administration: allegations of torture, debates around indefinite detention, and the question of the legality of the Iraq War. These recent human rights controversies are currently being documented in historical archives and written into U.S. history textbook chapters. This project uses ethnographic research with two types of organizations--governmental archive organizations and nongovernmental archive organizations--as well as discourse analysis of U.S. history textbooks, in order to analyze this process of 'becoming history' in depth. Further, this project examines the understandings of actors involved in these documentation projects and the ways they articulate their significance. Ultimately, this research examines how the conditions of possibility for different understandings of controversial histories are formed through actions in the present.
Skinner, Ryan Thomas, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Sound and Subjectivity: Music, Modernity, and Mogoya in Postcolonial Bamako, Mali,' supervised by Dr. Aaron Andrew Fox
RYAN T. SKINNER, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Sound and Subjectivity: Music, Modernity, and Mògòya in Postcolonial Bamako, Mali,' supervised by Dr. Aaron A. Fox. The dissertation supported by this grant explores understandings and expressions of 'ethical personhood' (Bamana: 'mògòya') among musical artists in Bamako, Mali's capital that sprawls along the upper Niger River. The research engages with a diverse group of popular musicians whose lives and works are locally glossed by the term 'artistiya,' a neologism meaning 'artist-ness' which the grantee defines as 'artistic personhood.' As a study of personhood among artists in Bamako, the work emphasizes the particular ethical concerns that artists daily confront in an urban society burdened by clientelism, corruption, and poverty. It moves from a historical inquiry into the emergence of artistiya through periods of decolonization and nationalism in the Soudan Français and Mali, when artists enjoyed a high degree of state patronage, to present-day encounters with neo-liberal socioeconomic structures that have destabilized artists' relationships to state and society. Through ethnography, this research examines how contemporary artists make claims to authorial rights and socio-professional legitimacy in a radically informal economy, foreground the ethics of musical aesthetics in times of crisis and hope, and confront the gendered and generational challenges of being an artist in Mali, and the world today. Throughout, attention is drawn to the pressing politics and poetics of personhood in contemporary urban Africa.
Hetherington, Craig, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'On the Verge of a Transparent Peasantry: The Politics of Property Reform in Paraguay,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena
CRAIG HETHERINGTON, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'On the Verge of a Transparent Peasantry: The Politics of Property Reform in Paraguay,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena. The project looked at the changing world of Paraguayan peasants, and asked how they viewed recent property reforms, pressures for legal and bureaucratic transparency, and the institutional frameworks facilitating the rapid expansion of industrial soybean production in their communities. The research lasted nine months and followed developments in six complicated legal battles over land following peasant activists into meetings, courtrooms, archives and government offices. In the process, it uncovered a novel form of political organizers whom the author dubbed 'guerrilla auditors,' peasant activists who constructed complex legal arguments from their own archival research. Their tactics were entirely legal, but threatening to established bureaucrats, who vilified and persecuted these self-fashioned auditors. The study suggests that these leaders straddle a contradiction of the Paraguayan transition. On the one hand, they respond to an international ideology of good governance and transparency, and use these ideas to their own ends. On the other hand, they show just how exclusive Paraguay's new democracy really is, and point to the implicit limitations of programs of good governance which are not built around a radical project of social inclusion.
Hetherington, Kregg. 2013. Beans before the Law: Knowledge Practices, Responsibility, and the Paraguayan Soy Boom. Cultural Anthropology 28(1):65-85.
Meade, Melissa R., Temple U., Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'In the Shadow of 'King Coal': Migration and Violence in Shenandoah, PA,' supervised by Dr. Nancy Morris
Preliminary abstract: In the midst of the upheavals of deindustrialization, Spanish-speaking immigrants are migrating to small towns across the US. In one such town, Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez Zavala was beaten to death in 2008 by a gang of white teenagers who were exonerated of all serious charges in a local court. Since the killing of Ramirez, Shenandoah and the Greater Anthracite Coal Region have occupied a contentious position in the public imaginary as a symbol of racialized violence directed at Spanish-speaking immigrants and also as a white working-class threat to the symbolic power of liberal, middle-class values and regimes of representation. This research contributes to the scholarship on migration, ethnic relations, and violence in deindustrialized regions by addressing four areas of concern to larger anthropological debates: Firstly, through the lens of the Ram¨ªrez killing and related media coverage, to understand the restructuring of the community vis-¨¤-vis the in-migration of Spanish-speaking immigrants and the out-migration of local youth; secondly, to explore how area residents address conflicts about migrant newcomers, class, and community revival amidst media and elite framing of the economically disenfranchised in terms of discourses of diversity, tolerance and bootstrapping; thirdly, to study how the structural violence of the political economy of the region limits and makes possible resident participation in larger (mediated) societal discourses; fourthly, to understand the over-determined relationships between this structural violence and violent events like the Ramirez killing.
Cesario, Christa Dawn, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'The Politics of Socially Engaged Archaeology,' supervised by Dr. Deborah Thomas
CHRISTA DAWN CESARIO, then a student at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was awarded funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'The Politics of Socially Engaged Archaeology,' supervised by Dr. Deborah Thomas. This project sought to answer the question 'How do the globally circulating aims and intentions of socially engaged archaeology become situated locally in Yucatán, Mexico?' During the tenure of the grant, the research on the production of knowledge and identity was expanded to include other groups also focused on heritage management and outreach to Maya communities, on the level of culture and language, while maintaining a focus on engagement and the assumptions and epistemological notions inherent therein, identity construction, the production of knowledge, and the politics of cultural production. These organizations included a community theater group located in Oxkutzcab, Yucatán; a Mexican NGO focused on language education in Tizimín, Yucatán; and a Yucatec Maya-run NGO based in San Francisco, California that works with the Yucatecan immigrant community. Throughout this work she maintained an interest in how the targets of these projects - Maya communities - negotiated their way in the world, the avenues open to them, the paths they chose to take, and how they grounded themselves on a day-to-day basis. The widening of her project scope permits comparisons across multiple social and epistemological communities, enhancing the ability of her research to contribute to anthropological theory building.
Samarawickrema, Nethra Anjana., Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Trade and Trust Amongst Sri Lankan Trading Families in the Indian Ocean,' supervised by Dr. Sharika Thiranagama
Preliminary abstract: During Sri Lanka's civil war, moments of spectacular violence--riots, mass displacements, and bombings--received much popular and scholarly attention, as did the claims of competing Sinhala and Tamil nationalisms that the island's ethnic relations were constituted by intractable conflicts. In this process, everyday economic exchanges across ethnic lines that persisted during and after the war have become occluded from view. Seeking to attend to such exchanges, my research focuses on gold and gem trading networks that draw a diverse range of actors--Muslim merchants, Sinhalese miners, and Tamil jewelers and goldsmiths--linking small costal and hinterland towns with the capital, and with markets in Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong. Through ethnographic research with gold and gem family firms and their local and transnational trading partners, my project will investigate how Sri Lankan traders build inter-generational commercial relations across multiple registers of affinity and difference. Examining these exchanges through wider frames than the nation state, and beyond the confines of war, it will also inquire how local commerce is shaped by traders' efforts to access transnational capital in the Indian Ocean. While doing so, my project places traders' notions of trust at the center of ethnographic inquiry. It asks how traders conceptualize trust, invoke it, employ it to maintain credit across ethnic lines, and use claims about trust to signal hierarchical relations of class, and caste. By focusing on trust, rather than on polarizing notions of ethnic conflict and cosmopolitanism, my research will contribute new frameworks to analyze the ambivalent and contingent social relations that shape trade in contemporary Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean.
Ha, Guangtian, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Reshaping Governance in a Liberalizing China: A Study of the Ethnically Unmarked Chinese Hui Muslims,' supervised by Dr. Myron L. Cohen
GUANGTIAN HA, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Reshaping Governance in a Liberalizing China: A Study of the Ethnically Unmarked Chinese Hui Muslims,' supervised by Dr. Myron L. Cohen. In contrast to the admiration the Chinese government often receives from the world for its impressive economic achievement, its treatment of religion and ethnic minorities has come under incessant attack from around the globe in the name of human rights protection. This research studies a particular minority group in China that is situated between religion and ethnicity. The Hui are ethnically unmarked (physically and, to a large extent, culturally indistinguishable from the majority Han) and stand in a disputed relation to Islam (some Hui find their identity defined solely by their Muslim identity, while others vociferously reject this religious definition and insist on a secular ethno-nationalist one). This research is based upon two years of fieldwork in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, and Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The research addresses how the separation between the religious and the secular socio-ethnic affairs is discursively constructed by a series of governmental regulations on religion and ethnicity and how this separation affects the ordinary Hui. It also analyzes the history and the current forms of the United Front (the major strategy deployed by the Communist Party to cope with religion and ethnic minority in contemporary China), the intricate ways this strategy works either for or against the logic of governance formulated more openly by the State Council, and how this strategy produces internal conflicts within the Hui, producing peculiar forms of subjectivity on the side of the Hui officials. The research examines the complex history of Hui-Han interaction, especially the debate on Hui ethnicity in the Republican period, how this history is inscribed on the body of the Hui, etched into its depth, and how this history puts the newly converted Han Muslim in a paradoxical situation. And, finally, it addresses Chinese intellectual and scholarly discourses on the politics of ethnic minority, especially those that draw an analogy between neo-Confucianism and US liberal constitutionalism as the framework for multi-culturalism.
Yukleyen, Ahmet, Boston U., Boston, MA - To aid research on 'Sources of Tolerance and Radicalism among Islamic Organizations in Europe,' supervised by Dr. Jenny B. White
AHMET YUKLEYEN, while a student at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, received an award in June 2003 to aid research on Islamic organizations in Europe, under the supervision of Dr. Jenny B. White. Transnational Islamic organizations in western Europe do not simply transplant religious extremism from their countries of origin. Rather, they play an intermediary role, negotiating between the social and religious needs of Muslims and the socioeconomic, legal, and political context of Europe. The diverse forms of religiosity institutionalized by Turkish-Islamic organizations permited a comparative analysis of this intermediary role. Yukleyen looked at the internal dynamics-religious authority, primary field of activism, and boundary maintenance-of three such organizations: Milli Gorus, representing political Islamism; Suleymanli, a branch of the Naqshibandiyya Sufi order; and the Nur movement, a piety-oriented da'wa (missionary) movement. Religious authority involved individuals, positions, and actions that represented collective identity and preserved group cohesion by controlling and disciplining members and dropouts-that is, through boundary making. Each group's field of activism-politics, education, or religious instruction-promoted the type of knowledge embodied by the religious authorities and distributed through boundary making. Redefinitions of religious concepts such as hijrah, jihad, and neighborly relations created a Muslim sense of belonging to the European home. Overall, a comparative analysis of the internal dynamics of transnational Islamic organizations yielded a fuller understanding of their roles in the production and dissemination of Islamic knowledge and practice in western Europe.
Lowrie, Ian Patrick Macleod, Rice U., Houston, TX - To aid research on 'Building an Information Economy: Artificial Intelligence as Infrastructure in Russia,' supervised by Dr. Dominic Boyer
Preliminary abstract: This project focuses on the ongoing attempts by Russian political and economic elites to enlist Artificial Intelligence (AI) researchers in building a new, information-based economy. Despite the historically strong barrier between industry and academy in Russia, elites view AI researchers' academic expertise with data mining, natural language processing, and complex systems management as a unique foundation upon which to build the infrastructure required for this economy. As a consequence, these researchers have found themselves in the limelight of contemporary Russian statecraft, despite considering themselves as apolitical, fundamental researchers. Through participant observation, interviews, and archival research at three critical sites where elites are experimenting with new, hybrid forms of work and training, my research aims to develop an ethnographic understanding of how this large-scale elite project makes itself felt in the quotidian experiences of AI researchers. Engaging recent anthropological conversations about information, infrastructure, and education, my ultimate aim is to produce a theoretical framework adequate to the articulations of science, state, and market emerging in contemporary Russia.
Boyette, Adam Howell, Washington State U., Vancouver, WA - To aid research on 'The Learning of Food Sharing Norms among Aka Foragers and Ngandu Farmers of the Central African Republic,' supervised by Dr. Barry Stephen Hewlett
ADAM HOWELL BOYETTE, then a student at Washington State University, Vancouver, Washington, received a grant in October 2009, to aid research on 'The Learning of Food Sharing Norms among Aka Foragers and Ngandu Farmers of the Central African Republic,' supervised by Dr. Barry Stephen Hewlett. The aim of this project was to characterize the cultural transmission of sharing among children from early through late childhood. Detailed observational methods were used to record the daily lives of 50 Aka hunter-gather children and 50 Ngandu farmer children in the Central African Republic. Settings, activities, and the identities of those in proximity to each child were systematically recorded, along with resource exchanges and learning or teaching involving the focal child. Ethnographic surveys of adults and children complemented these observational data by eliciting local perspectives on sharing and child development. These rich data will allow conclusions to be drawn about the social foundations of cooperation. By comparing the developmental trajectory of sharing and the contexts of learning in an egalitarian and a hierarchical culture questions of cultural differences in moral education and child development can be asked, and the roles of child culture and pedagogy in cultural transmission can be examined. In summary, it seems pedagogy has a minimal role in the transmission of sharing norms but cultural variation in patterns of negative reinforcement appears key. Child culture is rich in Aka and Ngandu communities and plays an important role in practice and the formation of habitus.