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.
Burdick, Christa Marie, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'Imagining a New Alsace: The Branding of Place and the Production of Ethnolinguistic Identity,' supervised by Dr. Jacqueline L. Urla
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates the ways in which place branding initiatives constitute important sites for the contemporary reconfiguration of nations, cultures and languages along the lines of global market imperatives. Focusing on a particularly fraught instance of region branding in Alsace, France, this project traces the ways in which Alsatian linguistic difference is rearticulated as profitable within broader discourses of place-based economic distinction. I will track the ways 'Alsatianness' is produced by regional branders for the specific brand form, and how efforts to produce 'Alsatianness' recruit Alsatian dialect to index and perform authenticity. Alsace however, as a region that changed hands between France and Germany four times within two hundred years, has long been the site of contested linguistic and national identification. Today, Alsace remains a region that defies identification along national lines, thus complicating the brand process that seeks to elicit consumable images and identities. Thus, this project also seeks to understand how emergent economic valuations of linguistic difference confront, coexist or compete with long-standing configurations of language and the nation. Employing methods of participant observation, interviews and focus groups with brand custodians and Alsatian individuals, I will trace the production, implementation and circulation of the brand to understand where and how Alsatian individuals are themselves interpellated to embody the regional brand identity, for as branding literature shows, place brands must be 'lived' to be successful (Aronczyk 2013).
Gogel, Leah Pearce, Teachers College, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Diagnosis Postponed: Ethnographic Perspectives on the Mental Health of Female Youth in Court-placed Residential Treatment,' supervised by Dr. Charles Harrington
LEAH PEARCE GOGEL, then a student at Teachers College, New York, New York, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Diagnosis Postponed: Ethnographic Perspectives on the Mental Health of Female Youth in Court-Placed Residential Treatment,' supervised by Dr. Charles Harrington. This ethnographic study provides an analysis of the how psychiatric diagnoses, including Disruptive Behavior Disorders and Bipolar Disorder, are located in a residential treatment center for female youth in the juvenile justice system. Fieldwork was conducted for twelve months with residents and staff at a facility in New York State. In particular, the project sought to explore how juvenile justice gatekeepers, youth, and other members of the residential community invoke, embrace, and/or challenge diagnostic categories. Data generated from participant observation and interviews suggests that there are meaningful contradictions in how psychiatric diagnoses operate in this environment. On the one hand, mental health concerns remain relatively muted in the daily lives of residents, who face myriad challenges related to histories of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual coercion, and school failure. On the other hand, the assignment of a psychiatric disorder to specific individuals, whether by self-labeling or by consensus among peers or staff, functions both to forgive and discredit; youth who acknowledge diagnoses can purchase leniency from peers and adults but only at the cost of being perceived as somehow broken. Ethnographic data is integrated with literature on the historical transformation of adolescent psychiatric disorders in order to examine how diagnoses like Conduct Disorder and Bipolar Disorder become a currency of value for various actors with different end goals.
Widger, Thomas, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'The Youth Suicide Epidemic in Sri Lanka: Causes, Meanings, Prevention Strategies,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan Parry
THOMAS WIDGER, then a student at London School of Economics, London, England, was awarded a grant in January 2005 to aid research on 'The Youth Suicide Epidemic in Sri Lanka: Causes, Meanings, Prevention Strategies,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan Parry. Suicide in Sri Lanka has been a major health and social problem for the past four decades. The research project examined the social and psychological causes, cultural meanings, and formal and informal preventions strategies of suicidal behaviour amongst the Sinhalese of a small town on the northwest coast of the island. A combination of ethnographic, archival, clinical, and epidemiological methods were used that incorporated both qualitative and quantitative approaches. As a result, deep understanding of the range of contexts and experiences that contribute to and frame suicidal behaviour was established. In particular, romantic relationships and romantic loss, marriage, kinship and domestic stress, Sinhalese emotional disorder, and separation and misfortune were examined. The research will make contributions to the anthropology of suicide and South Asia and also anthropological theory.
Laven, Nina, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Remaking Ancestry, Redrawing Aboriginality: The Life of Family Trees in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec,' supervised by Dr. Alaina Maria Lemon
NINA LAVEN, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received a grant in October 2006 to aid research on 'Remaking Ancestry, Redrawing Aboriginality: The Life of Family Trees in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec,' supervised by Dr. Alaina Maria Lemon. The research investigated the impact of folk ideas about 'race' and ancestry on DNA analysis, demonstrating how suppositions about race and North American settler and Native history are being used to generate a priori definitions of the genetic makeup of ancestral populations for genetic research. The grantee found that paternally inherited surnames are being used by geneticists to indicate the family histories of current day French Canadians. However, names are tacitly understood according to different frameworks within different groups. Within scientific contexts names are used as indicators of biological ancestry (French names mean French origins). Within broader French-Canadian circles, names are used as keys to recover personal histories and track French geographical and national origins. Within many Native circles, names are seen as subverting the search for roots and true ancestry: they are viewed as the stamps of a colonial clerical regime that converted natives in order to make them good French Catholic subjects. Research found that a struggle over history and political rights between French-Canadian nationalist and First Nations groups is being carried out through the debate about how to interpret names.
Beltran, Hector, U.of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Disenchanted Hacking: Technology, Startups, and Alternative Capitalisms from Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Charles L. Briggs
Preliminary abstract: My proposed dissertation research aims to ethnographically investigate emerging and contested forms of hacking and entrepreneurship in Mexico. The anthropology of hacking has mostly focused on U.S.-based advocates of free and open-source software who adopt a stance of 'political agnosticism'; they read ties to formal politics as counter-productive to their technical craft, which is aimed at achieving 'software freedom'. Emergent work in Latin America, however, finds that hackers more directly engage with state practices of governance and political reforms to actively debate how relations with the state can be redefined. While anthropologists of hackers mention that the individuals who participate in anti-authoritarian and anti-hierarchical hacker collectivities many times also work for corporate tech companies, no work has focused on the nuanced ways hacker-entrepreneurs navigate these apparently contradictory domains. This becomes particularly important as scholars begin to take seriously alternative capitalisms from the Global South and refocus 'the economy' on the small-scale models people use to project their livelihoods into the future under conditions of radical uncertainty. How do people living under precarious conditions create alternative protocols for technology-driven capitalism as they negotiate 'a life worth living' by proposing small reinventions to established expert models? I use mixed methods (participant observation, interviews, and 'social network metadata analysis') to focus on three specific practices of hacker-entrepreneurs: (1) recruitment of members to work on tech startup projects; (2) public interfacing of startups via 'pitching'; and (3) how they decide to create and maintain particular relationships across diverse social networks.
Machado, Rosana P., Federal U. of Rio Grande do Sui, Porto Alegre, Brazil - To aid research on 'Made in China: Commercial Practices among Chinese Immigrants in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay,' supervised by Dr. Ruben G. Oliven
ROSANA PINHEIRO MACHADO, while a student at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Made in China: Commercial Practices among Chinese Immigrants in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay,' supervised by Dr. Ruben G. Oliven. The ethnographic research sought to comprehend the flow of Chinese goods in the route China-Paraguay-Brazil. This market interweaves levels of legality/illegality, formality/informality in a situation in which a great part of the traded goods is falsified/replica and enters Latin America as smuggling. Initially, the fieldwork has carried out in Ciudad del Este - a Paraguayan city that borders Brazil and that has one of the largest commercial centers in the world - with Chinese immigrants (Taiwanese and Cantonese). An ethnographical work has been also carried out in the Province of Guangdong, visiting factories and wholesale stores which trade the products imported by the immigrants in Paraguay. The research aims to show a face of the global market from the point of view of the actors who lead this process and, in this sense, the research has tried to map the work, family and reciprocity networks (guanxi) which unite Brazil, Paraguay and China through production, purchase and sale of 'made in China' products. It is showed to what degree this route corresponds, at the same time, to a dialectic flow of goods and people, and to what degree it represents the new waves of the Chinese diaspora promoted by the opening market of post-Mao China.
Fleming, Mark Daniel, U. of California, San Franciso and Berkeley, San Franciso/Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Stress at Work: A Study of the Politics of Stress and Well-being in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Sharon Kaufman
MARK D. FLEMING, then a student at University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley, California, received a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Stress at Work: A Study of the Politics of Stress and Well-Being in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Sharon Kaufman. This project, based on thirteen months of ethnographic research, examines the production and contestation of scientific claims about 'work stress' in a post-industrial economy. The ethnographic research focuses both on scientists carrying out a long-term research study about work stress and on the political practices of unionized worker-subjects. The study tracks how concrete articulations of emotional well-being are produced within biomedical research on work stress, and analyzes how these articulations are mobilizing, through the political efforts of workers, new interventions and regulations of work settings. The aim is to disentangle how the expansion of neoliberal work regimes intersects with forms of biopolitical governance. This provides a way of investigating both the changing strategies of collective labor in a post-industrial economy, and the concrete procedures through which well-being is established and contested as ground for political debates. More broadly, this study charts the ways in which a politics of stress and well-being has emerged in America, destabilizing and refiguring claims about injury and responsibilities in a biopolitical age.
Tuttle, Brendan Rand, Temple U., Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Lives Apart: Diasporan Return, Youth, and Intergenerational Transformation in South Sudan,' supervised by Dr. Jessica R. Winegar
BRENDAN RAND TUTTLE, then a student at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'Lives Apart: Diasporan Return, Youth, and Interfenerational Transformation in South Sudan, supervised by Dr. Jessica R. Winegar. Setting out from the experiences of young returnees from North America, Europe, and Australia, to places they called 'home' in Southern Sudan, this research explored endeavors to create networks of accountability among people living in multi-local (transnational and urban-rural) settings. This project began by exploring the particular dilemmas of returnees who, after long absences, struggled to create and activate localized ties to the places they considered home. It became a study of the particular ethical questions faced by a range of people considered partial outsiders -- particularly, migrants, soldiers, the educated, young people -- who were grappling with questions about their relations to their places of origin, what they owed to them, and what moral stakes were at play. During a period of relative calm in the region, the grantee conducted twelve months of ethnographic research in South Sudan, in Bor and the surrounding countryside, in order to understand the interrelations between contemporary ethical debates about authority and coercive power, migration, and the past.