Davis, Christina Parks, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Language Practices and Ideologies of Difference in Sri Lanka' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
CHRISTINA P. DAVIS, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Language Practices and Ideologies of Difference in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. A former British colony, Sri Lanka is an extraordinary diverse, multilingual island-nation. For over 25 years, Sri Lanka has been ravaged by an ethnic conflict, between the Sinhalese majority Sri Lankan government, and a Tamil separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Drawing on 15 months of ethnographic research, this project explores multilingual language practices and ideologies of social difference among ethnic minority (Tamil and Muslim) adolescents in two educational institutions in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Two major questions were addressed: 1) how are social divisions -- based on ethnicity, religion, and class -- represented to students in institutional policies and curriculum involving language, such as the medium of instruction, and the teaching of correct or appropriate speech? And 2) how do the students in their own interactions in school and non-school settings engage with, negotiate, and create their own configurations of these groupings? This research contributes to the ethnography of education, studies of interactions in institutional settings, and to understandings of ethnic conflict.
Zuckerman, Charles Henry Pearson, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'The Ethics of Exchange: Gambling and Interaction in Luang Prabang, Laos,' supervised by Dr. Michael Lempert
CHARLES H.P. ZUCKERMAN, then a graduate student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded funding in October 2013 to aid research on 'The Ethics of Exchange: Gambling and Interaction in Luang Prabang, Laos,' supervised by Dr. Michael Lempert. This research used ethnographic and linguistic methods to explore the ethical dimensions of economic exchanges in Luang Prabang, Laos. For the past twenty years, Luang Prabang has been a city in shift, as the once royal capital of Laos has emerged as a global tourist destination. The city's inhabitants have reacted to the influx of money and new forms of exchange with a mixture of desire and moral trepidation. This research used interviews, participant observation, and the analysis of video-recorded economic exchanges to investigate how people living in the city understand, and ethically evaluate, this shift. The researcher paid particular attention to gambling-an especially ethically fraught activity-on the game pétanque. Pétanque began to soar in popularity in Luang Prabang in the late 1990s and continues to grow as the Lao socialist state lifts many of its restrictions on gathering and gambling and embraces market capitalism, foreign investment, and tourism. In studying pétanque in Luang Prabang, the research asked a broader anthropological and comparative question: how might an analysis of interaction help us better understand the moralization of forms of exchange and, more broadly, the ethical domain itself??????
Dubuisson, Eva-Marie, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Censoring Culture? Regional Authority and Political Legitimacy in Aitus Poetry in Post Soviet Kazakhstan,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
EVA-MARIE DUBUISSON, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Censoring Culture? Regional Authority and Political Legitimacy in Aitus Poetry in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. The grantee conducted ethnographic research in Kazakhstan for the period January - August 2006, to study a form of improvisational poetry currently performed all through the Kazakh world, among populations in Central Asia, Turkey, China, Russia, and Mongolia. This verbal art form is now a nationalized performance network in Kazakhstan; poets have achieved great levels of notoriety and stardom as bearers of 'true Kazakh culture.' In their highly intertextual performances, poets voice a wide variety of social personae as they engage in verbal duels. The project during this final research period was to show how poets collaborate with their mentors, audiences, and sponsors in a complex and highly metaphorical critique of Kazakhstan's current government at the municipal, provincial, and national levels. Poets decry corruption and nepotism, the vast gulf in levels of wealth between the country's elite and the average citizen, continued Russian hegemony in the region, and unaddressed issues of social and environmental degradation throughout the country. Sponsors, typically independently wealthy businessmen, are capitalizing upon an opportunity to add their voices indirectly to that critique. In the current climate of repression, censorship, and authoritarianism throughout Central Asia today, open dissent is not tolerated. This project demonstrates how the collaboration and mutual dependence of sponsors and poets creates new forms of authority within the Kazakh world above and beyond the nation-state.
Ingebretson, Britta Elisabeth, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Media, Circulation and the State: A Study of Women's Reading Practices in a Chinese Village,' supervised by Dr. Judith Farquhar
BRITTA E. INGEBRETSON, then a graduate student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Media, Circulation and the State: A Study of Women's Reading Practices in a Chinese Village,' supervised by Dr. Judith Farquhar. The grantee has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on women's leisure and media consumption habits in Tunxi, located in southern Anhui Province, China. The project explores how women in a rural city seek to constitute themselves as modern, 'cultured' (you wenhua de) subjects in China's rapidly urbanizing countryside, and how these women navigate through and interact with state efforts to produce 'quality' (you suzhi de) subjects. Through fieldwork at various sites including a rural school, a yoga studio, and a newsstand, this research shows how rather than reject concepts of 'quality' or 'culturedness' as promoted through state campaigns such as the 'superior birth, superior (child) rearing' (yousheng youyu) campaign, women seek to inhabit and quite literally embody them through various projects of self-improvement. These concepts of 'quality' and 'culturedness' are defined through a constellation of diverse and seemingly disconnected practices and qualities that index a forward-thinking, modern, and upwardly mobile mother independent from traditional family networks and local hierarchies, as well as distinct from the imagined 'backwards' (luohou) rural subject.
Johnson, Amanda Caroline, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Twitter and the Body Parodic: Global Circulation of a Speech Genre,' supervised by Dr. Graham Jones
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates the global circulation of Twitter parody accounts as a genre of social critique, asking how parody and the parodic voice are collaboratively created by the users and architects of Twitter. For while parodists animate accounts and, with interlocutors, co-create characters, the platform's architects shape expressive parameters through policies, affordances, and ideologies. As the Twitter platform expands, it increasingly comes into contact with a variety of legal regimes, censorship apparatuses, and cultural expectations that challenge the Twitter corporation's core values. No expressive form epitomizes such conflict more strongly than Twitter parody accounts, particularly those that 'animate' (Goffman 1981) the voices of political figures. Parody accounts serve as a flash point for legal issues of author's rights, impersonation, and defamation, with national and international dimensions. This project thus also examines shifting concepts of political participation and sovereignty. How do new communication resources spark negotiation of community affiliation and social power, and how do media actors navigate within and beyond traditional legal frameworks? To investigate these questions, this project combines organizational ethnography within Twitter itself--spanning the company's domestic and international operations--with comparative linguistic anthropological research on Twitter parodists and parody accounts that target regional politics in the United States, the Arab world, and Japan. It thus offers an alternative approach to both the media producer/consumer dyad and the online/offline binary, instead considering the Twitter participation ecology as a whole.
Kim, Ujin, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Moral Resonance: Honorific Speech among Kazakh Nomads in China,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
UJIN KIM, then a graduate student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Moral Resonance: Honorific Speech among Kazakh Nomads in China,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. This ethnographic research, conducted in Kaba County, Altai Prefecture, Xinjiang, China, shows that Kazakh nomads use their honorific speech to communicate the images of an ethical person, grounded in the appropriateness of one's linguistic choice in a given situation. This appropriateness, in turn, is based on the perceived congruence among the linguistic forms used (both honorific and non-honorific) and the non-linguistic components of the situation, mediated by language ideologies about what constitutes good speech and a good person. This study highlights the semiotic processes by which the grammatical components of honorific speech become imagistically linked to the various non-linguistic aspects of pastoral life. In their everyday ethical judgment of how one should act in different social settings, Altai Kazakhs appear to be concerned less about fulfilling their prescribed mutual obligations within the traditional kinship structure, but more about skillfully fashioning their social networks by drawing on the sociolinguistic generative scheme that links types of speech and types of kin relations, which can be tropically extended to all social relations, including non-kinship and interethnic ones. When the Kazakh herders use honorific speech in interactions, such imagistic 'fit' between forms of talk and social forms is understood to reveal the speaker's moral quality.
Luong, Dr. Hy Van, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada - To aid workshop on 'Anthropology in Vietnam,' 2007, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
'Anthropology in Vietnam'
December 15-18, 2007, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Organizer: Hy Van Luong (University of Toronto)
This international workshop was co-organized by the University of Toronto and the National University of Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City), with funding from the Ford and Wenner-Gren Foundations. It was the largest international forum for anthropologists working on Vietnam to date, attracting 77 anthropologists from 15 countries, and 66 Vietnamese ethnologists and anthropologists from all institutions of training and research in Vietnam. This conference took place in the context of unparalleled growth in anthropological research on Vietnam since the 1990s. The meeting was organized around three objectives: 1) to provide an important forum for intellectual exchange among scholars working in different traditions of inquiry; 2) to put anthropological research in Vietnam in a broader comparative perspective through the discussion of papers by senior anthropologists working in other geographical areas and by non-anthropologists working on Vietnam; and 3) to stimulate further research and curricular developments in Vietnamese ethnology and anthropology, especially as Vietnamese researchers seek to expand their training to include North American and Western European models
Mitsuhara, Teruko Vida Hodado, U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'Multilingual Childhoods in Mayapur, West Bengal: Peer Group Socialization of Bengali and Immigrant Children,' supervised by Dr. Elinor Ochs
Preliminary abstract: The proposed project investigates children's multilingual language practices and ideologies in Mayapur, West Bengal, India. In this newly formed transnational religious village, children of diverse national, ethnic, and class backgrounds maintain their heritage languages while learning several others. Mayapur is the home to practitioners of Gaudiya Vaishnavism from Asia, the Americas, and Europe, who have come here to build their spiritual homeland and temple for Krishna together with local Bengali devotees. Their children interact frequently across linguistic and cultural boundaries and develop multilingual competencies in languages such as Bengali, English, Russian, Spanish, Mandarin, Hindi, and Sanskrit. Through ethnographic observation of peer group interactions in the neighborhood, temple, school, and home, and interviews with parents, teachers, and community leaders, this project examines how circular migration and language contact mediated by religious and linguistic ideologies affect children's language practices and competencies. It asks what factors contribute to informal language learning of several languages and why the children do not shift towards a common lingua franca. Ultimately, the proposed study addresses a broader question of how multilingualism is encouraged and achieved while developing a sense of community. It aims to broaden anthropological understandings of the relation between a religious community and a speech community, looking at how a religious ideology can forge common ground across diverse racial, ethnic, and class, immigrant and resident populations in the Global South.
Morey, Dr. Stephen, La Trobe U., Melbourne, Australia - To aid '3rd Workshop of International Consortium for Eastern Himalayan Ethnolinguistic Prehistory: Evolution of a Diversity Hotspot at the Heart of Asia,' 2017, in collaboration with Dr. Mark Post
Preliminary abstract: The Eastern Himalayan region (EH) is the epicenter of cultural and linguistic diversity in mainland Asia. Despite its importance, comparatively little is known about its many peoples and languages. This situation is starting to change as more scholars are conducting ethnographic and descriptive-linguistic research in this region. The International Consortium for Eastern Himalayan Ethnolinguistic Prehistory (ICEHEP) was founded to bring together anthropologists and linguists conducting basic empirical research in the EH, to share data and develop approaches to the reconstruction of regional prehistory: how did cultural-linguistic diversity in the EH evolve, and what are its implications for our understanding of the cultural-linguistic history of broader Asia? The proposed workshop will considerably expand our disciplinary focus by bringing in paradigm-shifting anthropologists such as James Scott and Roger Blench, historical linguist and population geneticist George van Driem, the world's leading scholars of comparative Sino-Tibetan linguistics Scott DeLancey and David Bradley, and native speaker ethnolinguists Yankee Modi and Karma Tshering and PhD students currently engaged in primary fieldwork along the Indo-Myanmar borderlands. This workshop will lay the theoretical and empirical foundations of ethnolinguistic research in the EH region, from interdisciplinary, intercultural, and intergenerational perspectives, in the shape of a field-defining volume of papers.