Yehia, Elena Walid, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid research on 'Sectarian Difference Beyond Sectarianism: The Mediating Labors of 'Alternative' Media in Beirut,' supervised by Dr. Arturo Escobar
ELENA WALID YEHIA, then a student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Sectarian Difference Beyond Sectarianism: The Mediating Labors of 'Alternative' Media in Beirut,' supervised by Dr. Arturo Escobar. This fieldwork research explored ethnographically the alternative forms through which difference, especially sectarian difference, is being articulated in Lebanon today by the journalists of the daily Al-Akhbar opposition newspaper. The topic is of particular relevance in Lebanon, and today across the region, as sectarian differences are increasingly mobilized in hegemonic, oppressive, and antagonistic ways. Following the historic uprisings that sparked in Tunisia, this research expanded to examine how the Lebanese 'Campaign to Bring Down the Sectarian Regime' was formulating and framing its objectives, in addition to examining the daily practices through which its participants seek to achieve these goals. The research findings to date point that the alternatives investigated are emergent, quite multiple, non-coherent (if not plain contradictory sometimes). and are unfolding in relational and situated ways, whether within the newspaper or in its surrounding fervent social and geo-political context. While they are significantly shaped by the wider constraints within which they operate, this research also noted that their seeming ambiguities is actually also contributing towards making these sites fertile grounds for encounters, transgressions, and new possibilities for cultivating alternative subjectivities and imaginaries that strive to enact other ways of engaging across sectarian, political, and other forms of difference.
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.
Bajracharya, Sepideh A., Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'A Country of Hearsay and Rumor: Imagining the Nepali Nation Through the Politics of Rumor and Vigilantism,' supervised by Dr. Mary M. Steedly
SEPIDEH BAJRACHARYA, while a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in January 2004 to aid research on 'A Country of Hearsay and Rumor: Imagining the Nepali Nation through the Politics of Rumor and Vigilantism,' supervised by Dr. Mary Margaret Steedly. This project asked how the circulation of subterranean discourses (rumors, scandals, conspiracy theories, prophecies) in Kathmandu and its vigilante-run urban neighborhoods enabled a form of political imagining that was specific to what has - since the royal massacre of 2001 - become recognized as a period of political crisis. The study focused on: 1.) actual and imagined links between networks of neighborhood vigilantism and the state; 2.) the techniques and technologies that produced these associations; and 3.) how 'city' and 'neighborhood' became landscapes marked by, and generative of these dealings. It was based on work done in two adjacent Kathmandu neighborhoods affiliated with a gang rumored to have illicit connections to the palace and political elite. Fieldwork consisted of working with, and attending, public events sponsored by members of the gang, and the network of 'patriotic organizations' to which they were linked. Interviews were conducted with residents of the two neighborhoods, political activists, and city/police officials. The use of media and inscription technologies (such as cell phones and invitation cards) was examined to understand how they generated rumor circuits that fed the city's public/political imagination. The study revealed that the face of the criminal and that of the ruler were interchangeable and created through orchestrated and imagined spectacles of legitimacy and rumor. The dissertation will focus on the exchangeability of these legal and illegal structures of rule through rumored associations and public spectacles that allege connections, but do not provide any proof of connection. How does this shape our understanding of 'the political' and its relation to the condition of crisis that foregrounds assumptions about the postcolonial nation?
Fernando, Wiroshana Nuwanpriya Oshan, U. of California, Santa Barbara, CA - To aid research on 'The Effects of Evangelical Christianity on State Formation in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Mary Elizabeth Hancock
OSHAN FERNANDO, then a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California, was awarded a grant in October 2006 to aid research on 'The Effects of Evangelical Christianity on State Formation in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Mary Elizabeth Hancock. Funding supported twelve months of research in Sri Lanka with the objective of studying the effect of evangelical Christianity on the formation of the developmentalist, post-colonial state. Ethnographic research was carried out in Tissamaharama, a town in southern Sri Lanka central to hegemonic formations of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, the power base of a Marxist political party, and also the location of a burgeoning evangelical Christian church. Data were collected through participant observation, the collection of life-history narratives, and archival research. Initial analysis of the data shows that people's everyday practices are infused with religious meaning in the context of their conversion to evangelical Christianity, a process which also greatly influenced their political decision making. Furthermore, the cultural framework acquired by people as they accommodated an evangelical Christian discourse conflicted with the role they were expected to play as animators of the state's Sinhala-Buddhist agrarian vision of modernity, showing that state-formation and political agency need to be understood in the context of locally-situated cultural processes.
Voorhees, Hannah Huber, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Co-Management of Alaskan Marine Mammals: Dilemmas of Indigenous Legitimacy in the Age of Environmental Risk,' supervised by Dr. Adriana Petryna
HANNAH H. VOORHEES, then a student at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Co-Management of Alaskan Marine Mammals: Dilemmas of Indigenous Legitimacy in the Age of Environmental Risk,' supervised by Dr. Adriana Petryna. This dissertation research focuses on collaborations between Alaska Native subsistence hunters and governmental biologists conducting marine mammal research in the Bering Strait region amidst accelerating loss of arctic sea ice. The mandates of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act have increased scientific demand for information about the changing Arctic environment. Biologists seek the knowledge, skills, and cooperation of Inupiat and Siberian Yupiit hunters, who are uniquely skilled at locating, capturing, and tagging animals traditionally harvested for subsistence. These skills, along with Traditional Ecological Knowledge and community support, have become valuable resources in a new Arctic 'economy of loss.' Environmental monitoring is a valuable asset, and increasingly, a subjective mode of being on the land (and sea) for Alaska Natives. Yet hunters, scientists, and bureaucrats continue to negotiate a 'fair price' for indigenous contributions, in both economic and, political terms.
Kefalas, Christofili Valentina, U. of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Telling Ancestral Narratives: Maori Identity and the Charles Smith Collection,' supervised by Dr. Laura Lynn Peers
CHRISTOFILI V. KEFALAS, then a student at University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, received a grant in April 2009 to aid research on 'Telling Ancestral Narratives: Maori Identity and the Charles Smith Collection,' supervised by Dr. Laura Lynn Peers. The word taonga has come to define many notions of Maori material culture such as museum objects, performance, land, ancestral human remains, and even knowledge itself. This case study documents ways narratives from the Charles Smith collection of taonga Maori at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford speak to contemporary imperatives for Whanganui iwi (tribe). Whanganui haVE been long involved in endeavors to restore their ancestral land rights through the Waitangi Tribunals. The trials have demanded a recollection of community oral history as evidence, but have also shaped heritage ideals. Museum taonga is theorized as integral to Maori identity, because it is the bridge to ancestral history. This study agrees with this relevant aspect of taonga, but argues that this kinship-based view cannot be wholly removed from the legal and political engagements ongoing in Maori communities. Knowledge from museum taonga helps connect to an indigenous identity based in historical understanding, but this definition has been forwarded as all encompassing, when it only partially explains a contemporary interest in taonga. The meaning of material culture changes and is not uniform within the Whanganui community, so it is important to examine the contexts that shape the contemporary sociality of taonga Maori.
Dennis, Dannah Karlynn, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Re-Imagining the Nation: Citizens in the New Nepal,' supervised b Dr. Allison Alexy
Preliminary abstract: How do people envision and enact citizenship when the social and legal foundations of their nation-state are called into question? This doctoral research explores how citizens in contemporary Nepal are re-imagining their nation in the midst of an ongoing transition from Hindu monarchy to secular democracy. This turbulent process requires the citizens of Nepal to fundamentally re-conceptualize Nepali national identity, which has historically been defined in terms of three key elements: the Shah monarchy, state Hinduism, and the Nepali language. Because the Shah monarchy and state Hinduism have both been removed from the structure of government in recent years, and given that less than 50% of the country's population speaks Nepali as a first language, the continued existence of a unified Nepali state is contested. My research analyzes the ways in which Nepali people who oppose the division of the country along ethnic and religious lines are attempting to re-imagine Nepal as a coherent, unified nation-state and themselves as citizens of that nation-state. I focus on three main arenas in which Nepali citizens are working to concretize their ideas about the nation: 1) the education of children, 2) religious demonstrations in public life, and 3) everyday interactions between neighbors of different backgrounds.
Szpak, Paul, U. of Western Ontario, London, Canada - To aid research on 'Social and Geographic Lives of North Peruvian Camelids: Perspectives from Stable Isotope Analyses,' supervised by Dr. Christine White
PAUL SZPAK, then a student at University of Western Ontario, London, Canada, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Social and Geographic Lives of North Peruvian Camelids: Perspectives from Stable Isotope Analyses,' supervised by Dr. Christine White. This project utilized isotopic data derived from multiple tissues (bone, hair, nails) of South American camelids (llama/alpaca) from archaeological sites from the north coast of Peru. In conjunction with baseline plant isotopic data collected along an altitudinal transect in the Moche River Valley region, this study produced isotopic evidence consistent with locally raised coastal camelids, a pattern of animal husbandry that disappeared following the arrival of European domesticates. The isotopic evidence suggests a pattern of camelid husbandry that differs markedly from that observed today in the Andes. Specifically, it is proposed that coastal camelid herding was performed at a small scale, with small numbers of animals, or perhaps even single animals, being kept by families or other small social units. This pattern is supported by extremely high levels of between-individual isotopic variation and inconsistent patterns of within-individual isotopic variation, both of which are driven by high levels of dietary differences between individual animals.