Seaman, Aaron Todd, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Experts of Experience: The Production of Lay Expertise among Family Caregivers of People with Dementia,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer Cole
AARON T. SEAMAN, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Experts of Experience: The Production of Lay Expertise among Family Caregivers of People with Dementia,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer Cole. This project examined 'caregiving' as a historically contingent type of expertise among people with young-onset dementia and their families in the United States. Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted over fifteen months in multiple locations, including a memory clinic, support groups, conference and trainings, and families' homes. Preliminary findings suggest multiple ways that family members work to remain recognizable in the midst of changes that threaten to render them incommensurable with their own conceptions of what it means to be a family. First, biological changes experienced by the person diagnosed with dementia destabilize the very grounds upon which family as a sociocultural unit is constituted and maintained. Second, families are forced to recalibrate their relations as they are disarticulated into the component parts of 'person with dementia' and 'family caregiver' by biomedical and popular discourses. Third, while tending to one's health historically fell under the domain of gendered domestic duties, 'caregiving' has become a domain of expertise foreign to familial relations and practices. As such, when families are recruited to the caregiving role by a healthcare system steeped in a state moment of retrenchment, they find themselves unable to reconcile the work of medicalized 'caring' with the recognized practices that constitute family.
Gaikwad, Namrata, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN - To aid research on 'Men against Matrilineage: Contestations Around Gender Politics in Shillong, India,' supervised by Dr. Jean Langford
NAMRATA GAIKWAD, then a student at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, was awarded a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Men against Matrilineage: Contestations around Gender Politics in Shillong, India,' supervised by Dr. Jean Langford. During Summer 2011, a second-phase of research was conducted (through participant observation, discussions and interviews) both in the urban center of Shillong but also extended to semi-urban and rural settings in the state of Meghalaya. The data collected provided unique insights into the ways in which dynamics around gender and kinship intersect with conceptualizations of modernity, futurity, and personhood among Khasi village-folk. These discussions threw new light on the research previously conducted in Shillong and enabled a reframing of problems as had been articulated by more educated and well-to-do people. Consequently, it facilitated a sharpening of research questions and a fresh approach to the same theoretical problems encountered in the city. The research also followed relatives of people from the village, who now live in Shillong, in order to track their continued, yet somewhat realigned kinship relations and responsibilities (in all their gendered dimensions). It highlighted an interesting urban-rural schism with the 'nongkyndongs' (Khasi for 'villagers' or 'country bumpkins') both reflecting on what they felt was a false divide created by urbanites but also simultaneously owning their difference and purported lack of class and cultural capital in the name of something more genuinely Khasi.
Mahadev, Neena, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Buddhist and Christian Ethical Endeavors: Charitable Works, Conversions, and Unstable Religious Commitments in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
NEENA MAHADEV, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, was awarded funding in October 2008, to aid research on 'Buddhist and Christian Ethical Endeavors: Charitable Works, Conversions, and Unstable Religious Commitments in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. The rise in global Pentecostal Christianity has begun to affect Sri Lanka over recent decades, inciting Buddhist nationalists to revive their efforts to protect against the possibility that Christianity will supplant Buddhism as the majority religion of the country. This research attended to the discourses and practices involved in protecting Theravada Buddhism, as well as to new practices of evangelism and charismatic Christianity in Sri Lanka. The fieldwork considered sub/urban religious landscapes where conversions to charismatic Christianity have been relatively concentrated within certain socioeconomic demographic groups, in contrast to predominantly Buddhist tsunami-affected areas where conversions have been gradual, limited, and dispersed across southern districts. In the crosscut between Buddhist nationalism and Pentecostal evangelism in Sri Lanka, this project took up the following ethnographic tasks: 1) to study the events that have caused a resurgence of exclusivist religious doctrines and practices, exacerbating Buddhist-Christian discord in Sri Lanka; 2) to study the impacts of heightened tensions on Buddhist and Christian institutions and individuals; 3) to gain knowledge about the workings of both harmonious and discordant inter-religious relationships; and 4) to understand how experiences of belonging within families and within village communities did or did not match ideologies of exclusivity promoted by religious authorities.
Klaus, Haagen D., Ohio State U., Columbus, OH - To aid 'Consequences of Contact in the Andes: A Holistic Bioarchaeological Case Study of Colonial Peru, ' supervised by Dr. Clark S. Larsen
HAAGEN D. KLAUS, then a student at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, was awarded a grant in May 2005 to aid research on 'Consequences of Contact in the Andes: A Holistic Bioarchaeological Case Study of Colonial Peru,' supervised by Dr. Clark S. Larsen. Contact between Native Americans and Europeans beginning in 16th century AD represented the most complex and violent biological and cultural interchange in history. This research initiated the bioarchaeological study of Central Andean contact as the first empirical, dynamic, humanized, and contextualized study of Colonial Peru. With the excavation and analysis of human remains from the Colonial Chapel of San Pedro de Morrope, Lambayeque valley, north coast Peru, three hypotheses were tested: 1.) health of the indigenous Mochica peoples declined following contact; 2.) historically inferred postcontact depopulation resulted in significantly lowered Mochica genetic diversity; and 3.) the Mochica adopted Christian burial rites that replaced traditional rituals.
These hypotheses were tested via a broadly conceived and methodologically diverse approach, examining interlinked human skeletal and dental biological phenomena: demography, skeletal infection, developmental stress, physical activity, violent trauma, and inherited dental traits. Data were drawn from 1,142 individuals spanning the late pre-Hispanic and Colonial Lambayeque Valley (AD 900-1750). Reconstruction of burial practices and indigenous culture were based on corresponding archaeological documentation of mortuary patterns and ethnohistoric documents. Initial findings support the first two hypotheses, with unprecedented negative declines in childhood and adult health marked by elevated prevalence of periosteal infection, enamel hypoplasias, growth stunting, and degenerative joint disease. A dietary shift away from marine foods is indicated by decreased oral health and lowered prevalence of porotic hyperostosis lesions (linked to anemia caused by marine parasitism) as more starchy carbohydrates were consumed. Low variability of inherited dental traits likely reflects catastrophic postcontact depopulation. However, reproduction of precontact burial rituals indicates native culture was not exterminated. The Mochica remained an embodied, agency-driven group who forged their traditions with that of the colonizers into a hybrid Euro-Andean culture, encoding symbolisms expressing indigenous identity, social memory, and symbolic resistance. This first study of Colonial Peru contributes to in-depth perspectives of consequences of social conditions on human health, European colonization of the Americas, and social interpretation of mortuary rituals in revealing how a profound turning point global history indelibly impacted the peoples of the Andes.
Klaus, Haagan. 2008. Paleopathology during the Postcontact Adaptive Transition: A View from the Colonial North Coast of Peru. Paleopathology Newsletter(143):12-28.
Klaus, Haagen D., and Manuel E. Tam. 2009. Contact in the Andes: Bioarchaeology of Systemic Stress in Colonial Mórrope, Peru. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 138(3):356-368.
Klaus, Haagen D., Clark Spencer Larsen, and Manuel E. Tam. 2009 Economic Intensification and Degenerative Joint Disease: Life and Labor on the Postcontact North Coast of Peru. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139(2):204-221.
Yuan, Xiao-bo, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Constituting the Three-Self Church: Official Christianity, the State, and Subjectivity in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Judith Farquhar
Preliminary abstract: China, in the last two decades, has experienced what many term a post-Socialist 'religious revival.' In particular, scholars and popular media have noted fast-growing participation in Protestant Christianity -- once deemed a 'Western' import with little traction in Chinese society, and now increasingly localized, indigenized, and popularly enacted as 'Chinese' by religious practitioners. My project follow this construction of 'Chinese Christianity' in the domain of state-approved religion. Rather than presuming a natural antagonism between 'authentic' sites of Christianity and state regulatory mechanisms, I ask instead about how forms of state/institutional power, along with everyday Protestant practices and discourses, work to align Christianity with the Chinese state. How is official Chinese Christianity being constructed as a domain of belief and practice in institutional and everyday settings? And what significance does the increasing visibility of Protestant Christianity, in its various and fraught forms, have for public imaginations about the meaning of religion, Chinese tradition, and the regulatory presence of the party-state? To explore these questions, I propose to approach the institutionalization of Chinese Christianity as an ongoing process rather than a fixed reality, by focusing on the discursive circulations and on-the-ground practices of the Three-Self Church, the only state-sanctioned, nationwide Protestant church in China.
Rodriguez, Juan Luis, Southern Illinois U., Carbondale, IL - To aid research on 'Rhetorical Strategies and Gift Circulation in the Politics of The Orinoco Delta, Venezuela,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan David Hill
JUAN LUIS RODRIGUEZ, then a student at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Rhetorical Strategies and Gift Circulation in the Politics of the Orinoco Delta, Venezuela,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan D. Hill. This study analyses political discursive strategies and gift circulation in the Orinoco Delta, Venezuela. This is a semiotic and discourse-centered study on how the Warao indigenous population interacts with political representatives from the Venezuelan government. This study is based on a yearlong fieldwork focusing on political speeches and observing how political gifts are circulated. Research focused on public political events in which politicians, governmental representatives, and communal council's members perform public political discourses. During this year, the grantee followed the constitutional referendum of December 2007 and the organization of the 2008 regional election in the Orinoco Delta, as well as the development of the Morichito communal council in the Lower Delta. This helped in evaluating how gift circulation and political discourse intersect as semiotic strategies. The purpose of this research is to further advance the discourse-centered approaches to cultures developed in South America by addressing the ways in which discursive sign vehicles interact with other semiotic forms, especially political gifts. This type of analysis is central to understand recent political processes occurring among the Warao, as well as the general political climate of Venezuela since 1998 (the rising of President Hugo Chavez Frias).
Eisenberg, Daniel Thomas Abraham, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Ecological Predictors of Telomere Lengths: A Longitudinal and Cross-population Analysis of Human Biological Diversity,' supervised by Dr. Christopher W. Kuzawa
DAN EISENBERG, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received a grant in May 2010 to research on 'Ecological Predictors of Telomere Lengths: a Longitudinal and Cross-Population Analysis of Human Biological Diversity,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa . Telomeres are DNA sequences at chromosome ends that shorten with age and are required for proper cell division. Telomere shortening is associated with diminished cell proliferation capacity, which is believed to be a cause of senescence. Given the importance of cell proliferation to blood telomere length (BTL), it has been hypothesized that BTL reflects previous immune system activation and indicates current immune function. Thus BTL could provide a new biomarker of life history allocations and of developmental exposures to infection. Contrary to the shortening of BTL that occurs with age, previous studies have shown that children of older fathers have longer telomeres. By analyzing BTL data from the Philippines, Eisenberg and colleagues showed for the first time that this happens across at least two generations: older fathers not only have offspring with longer telomeres, but their sons also have offspring with longer telomeres. Analyses of how early life infection and growth predicts later BTL are ongoing.
Eisenberg, Dan. 2012. Delayed Paternal Age of Reproduction in Humans is Associated with Longer Telomeres across Two Generations of Descendants. PNAS Early Edition (published online).
Jamil, Nurhaizatul Jamila, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Marketing Manners Makeover: Women, Islam and Self-Help in Contemporary Singapore,' supervised by Dr. Robert Launay
Preliminary abstract: Since 2007, Singaporean graduates of Egypt's Al-Azhar University have helped pioneer a new wave of 'religious' classes that incorporate American self-help rhetoric with Sufi theology and poetry, while closely referencing the Quran and Hadith (prophetic traditions). These returnees offer seminars such as 'The 7 Habits of Effective Muslims,' 'Al-Ghazali's Beginning of Guidance,' 'Manners Makeover for Wives,' 'Islamic Business Ethics,' and 'Finding your Ideal Muslim Partner.' Like their counterparts in Indonesia, Malaysia, Yemen, and Egypt, the returnees market their costly lessons as opportunities for young ethnic and religious minority Muslim graduates of Singapore's secular universities to apply new understandings of their faith to everyday spheres. Further distinguishing themselves from older preachers, they utilize new media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to proselytize and market their lessons. While their seminars attract male participants, the vast majority of students are professional women desiring to fashion 'ideal' Muslim selves while pursuing their careers. Women attend these classes dressed in the latest Islamic fashions, armed with technological gadgets, and virtually archive their participation on Facebook. How can we understand young women's attraction to, and use of, these classes? What is the relationship between the proliferation of these new education ventures and women's anxieties concerning the pursuit of economic mobility, religiosity, and love in a neoliberalizing economy? How does women's embrace of globally commodified Islam, new media, and eclectic pedagogical incentives reframe notions of Islamic 'piety' and 'education,' and pose challenges to dominant male religious authority and interpretation?
Wang, Steven Liang, City U. of New York - Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Testing the Continuity of Middle and Late Pleistocene Hominins in Asia,' supervised by Dr. Eric Delson
STEVEN L. WANG, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received an award in May 2007 to aid research on 'Testing the Continuity of Middle and Late Pleistocene Hominins in Asia,' supervised by Dr. Eric Delson. Extensive research has been conducted on the topic of modern human origin(s), in which competing hypotheses attempt to posit where, when, and how Homo sapiens emerged. One of these hypotheses is known as regional continuity, and it infers that humans more or less simultaneously evolved in different parts of the Old World from archaic local populations. The supporters of this view consider Australasia to be the key region and argue that it is possible to unequivocally trace regional features, such as facial flatness, through time. The project intends to investigate this question from the perspective of cranial shape variation in Asia from roughly 800 thousand years ago (kyr) to the present. Preliminary work looking at cheekbone shape change among fossil and recent humans from different regions suggests that facial flatness is a regional character, albeit a recent one and not necessarily a regional continuity feature. Moreover, preliminary study of cranial shape variation among Asian fossils of the Late Pleistocene (127-10 kyr) confirms that there is considerable variation within this group, as previous works have shown, and suggests that fossil and recent humans from the same region do not always share cranial shape similarities. Additional analyses on earlier fossils are ongoing.
Pleshet, Noah Orion Handmer, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Man, Dog, Dingo: Canine Conjunctures and Indigenous Transformations in Central Australia,' supervised by Dr. Fred Myers
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates the relationships between domestic dogs, native dingoes and Indigenous people in urban and remote central Australia. Indigenous relations with dingoes and dogs take us to the heart of central Australia's great transformation since the early 19th century, from a domain of hunter-gatherers to that of frontier ranchers, to the present day in which Indigenous communities largely subsist on transfer payments from the welfare state, in the midst of a wealthy settler state economy. Prior to white colonialism Indigenous Australians tamed the dingo, valued as a companion animal, a hunting aid, and a sacred figure in Dreaming narratives. White settlers were accompanied by domestic dogs, which were rapidly integrated into Indigenous social, ecological and spiritual life. Today hybrid dog-dingo 'camp dogs' are a salient and controversial feature of Indigenous settlements. In this research I plan to investigate the history and contemporary everyday significance of Indigenous-canid relations in Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara communities in southern central Australia, using a combination of research methods including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and life history recording. This research will build on classical ethnographies of human-animals relations, and contemporary Animal Studies scholarship, to promote understandings of personhood and place making in Indigenous modernity. This project aims to develop new understandings of Indigenous experiences of settler state economy and society, and the transforming values of culture and nature these have entailed, with broader implications for understandings of interspecies relationships articulated in the midst of difference and inequality.