Fish, Allison Elizabeth, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Owning Transnational Yoga: Intellectual and Cultural Property Claims to a Traditional Practice,' supervised by Dr. William Michael Maurer
ALLISON E. FISH, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, received a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Owning Transnational Yoga: Intellectual and Cultural Property Claims to a Traditional Practice,' supervised by Dr. William Maurer. Research related to this project took place primarily in Bangalore, Dehli, and California. What the grantee terms 'transnational yoga' is an example of the rapid transformation that forms of traditional cultural knowledge undergo as they are increasingly offered in commoditized form to consumers in affluent and cosmopolitan markets. The research takes two US federal district court cases, Bikram v. Schreiber-Morrison et al. and Open Source Yoga Unity v. Bikram as a starting point. These suits served as the catalyst triggering open conflict concerning the proprietary nature of yogic knowledge. In researching the resulting dispute, the grantee attends to two sets of reactions. The first is that of the Indian state, which is concerned with what it perceives to be the on-going piracy of its national-cultural heritage. The study focuses upon the state's own claim to yoga and its attempt to protect this claim through the construction of a traditional knowledge digital library. Secondly, the research examines the reactions of select yoga organizations, which have also adopted intellectual property claims. In tracing these relationships the grantee shows how not only yoga, but also other cultural objects (such as intellectual property) are contested and reconfigured. In doing this, the project contributes to a re-examination of the tradition-modernity binary.
Swart, Patricia L., New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Film Practices, Globalization, and the Public Sphere in Kerala, India,' supervised by Dr. Rayna Rapp
PATRICIA L. SWART, while a student at New School University in New York, New York, was granted an award in December 2002 to aid research on film practices, globalization, and the public sphere in the state of Kerala, India, under the supervision of Dr. Rayna Rapp. Swart examined the ways in which globalization processes had transformed the portrayal of women in popular and art films and women's spectatorship of films in Kerala. Changes in film texts and spectatorship were found to be linked to shifts in gender identity, concepts of citizenship, and the shaping of the public sphere-all unique reactions to globalization in Kerala. Although the state had a long history of global trade and cultural assimilation, the newest wave of globalization had inspired violent protests and demonstrations. The Malayalam-language cinema of Kerala responded to global changes by making films that reverted from formerly more liberal and enlightened portrayals of women to a kind of traditionalism that glorified patriarchal behaviors and attitudes. Swart conducted fieldwork in several primary areas: spectatorship practices, film institutions, and film texts. Interviews, participant observation, and a study of archival sources indicated that despite Kerala's reputation as a model of development, women in the state were subjected to increasing restrictions on their mobility and participation in public events and to increasing violence and sexual harassment. Research on film and gender showed the links between globalization, inequality, and repression by revealing some of the tensions extant in Kerala, including high unemployment, increasing consumerism, and a high rate of suicide among women.
Ahsan, Sonia, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Recognizing Honor: Sexual Violence and the Honour Effect in Afghanistan,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley Morris Messick
SONIA AHSAN, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in November 2010 to aid research on 'Recognizing Honor: Sexual Violence and the Honor Effect in Afghanistan,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley M. Messick. This project proposes an ethnographic approach to understanding honor-killings. Tracing the complex juridical, social, material, and historical permutations of the categories of honor and honor-killings in Afghanistan, the archival and ethnographic research unsettles these categories by demonstrating that honor is not a singular cause of action that motivates the killings but rather a retroactive effect that manifests itself through ex post facto discourses and practices. This is achieved by: 1) documenting the prominent discourses and practices that enable honor to emerge as the foremost category of analysis to explain certain violent events; 2) analyzing the vocabulary defining sexual transgressions (and by extension sexual norms) and how it has been systematically rationalized, institutionalized, and circulated through social processes; and 3) studying the manifestation of dishonorable statuses (with or without a killing), and how they are inhabited and negotiated in relation to honorable states. Bringing together the social constructs of sexual vocabulary, through an ethnography of honor-killings, this project seeks to illuminate the sexual life-worlds that inhabit present day Afghanistan.
Murphy, Daniel Joseph, U. of Kentucky, Lexington, KY - To aid research on 'Communal Resource Management and Rural Inequality in Post-Socialist Mongolia,' supervised by Dr. Peter Deal Little
DANIEL J. MURPHY, then a student at University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Communal Resource Management and Rural Inequality in Post-Socialist Mongolia,' supervised by Dr. Peter Deal Little. This project investigated the ways in which increasing rural inequality in post-socialist Mongolia has altered common-property resource management institutions, access to pastoral resources, and resources use patterns. The researcher carried out this project in the third bag (Uguumur district) of Bayankhutag soum (county), Khentii aimag (province) in eastern Mongolia and employed a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies (including participant observation, surveying, semi-structured and unstructured interviewing, and case-study analysis) to investigate the research questions. The project found that general socio-economic inequality and commercialization in pastoral society, rather than solely absentee herd-ownership as hypothesized, has fostered divergent herd management practices and resource use strategies. Moreover, the research has found that these changes, in combination with neo-liberal governance reforms such as decentralization, have altered community dynamics and the effectiveness of community level institutions to regulate resource use. This research will contribute to: 1) new understandings of common property systems and theories of 'community;' 2) expansion of anthropological investigations of property relations under post-socialism to common-property systems; and 3) anthropological studies of pastoral inequality.
Ghosh, Sahana, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Borderland Orders: The Gendered Economy of Mobility and Control in North Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan
Preliminary abstract: How are borderlands produced in the intersection of disparate national regimes of control and transnational practices of border-crossings? This project investigates the constitution of the borderland between India and Bangladesh as a discrete spatial entity with a gendered socio-economic terrain, in the face of increasing militarization of the postcolonial border. India's initiative to fence and guard its 4,000 km long border with Bangladesh will produce, upon completion, the longest fenced international border in the world. However the border runs through a region that is historically and culturally linked, and densely inhabited by Hindu and Muslim Bengalis, with enduring economic and socio-familial ties and commercial and religious networks and routes. These ties are reconfigured and new economies generated through people's negotiations of the states' attempts to control the flow of people and goods between the two countries. Through sixteen months of ethnographic research I will study how Bengali men and women in both countries are differently involved in transborder movements in their everyday lives as a part of the political economy of the borderland. This involvement includes complex relations of power as residents contest and are also complicit with male security forces deployed by India and Bangladesh on their respective sides of the border. My study thus foregrounds the gendered relations, moralities and plural conceptions of law and economy that undergird the risky calculations that residents of this region make in their 'illegal' transborder activities within this borderland space. In this way, this project clarifies the relationship between regional networks of mobility and iterations of conflicting notions and scales of belonging and 'security'.
Vaidya, Anand Prabhakar, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'The Origin of Forests, Private Property, and the State: The Life of India's Forest Rights Act,' supervised by Dr. Ajantha Subramanian
Preliminary abstract: This project studies contestations around the drafting, transmission, and implementation of India's landmark Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act of 2006. This law, a bold attempt to reconcile India's environmental and livelihood concerns, came into effect in January 2008 and created a radical new procedure for the more than seven million people who live in India's national forests to claim formal title over forest land. The Act accomplishes this by instituting a revolutionary form of property, granting individuals non-transferable titles and requiring them to act as forest stewards. It simultaneously redistributes authority over forests, creating new local judicial bodies to regulate forest use. The law, however, held up by bureaucrats and pushed by activists, is being implemented slowly and incompletely: every step of its life has been a site of struggle for control over the law's meaning and the authority to regulate India's forests. My project explores these struggles by following an activist group that has been involved in shaping the law from its beginning. I propose to examine the links between the social history of the Forest Rights Act and its ongoing implementation. I ask what sorts of authority and property are claimed through the law, and how politics play out on a legal terrain to include or exclude the forest residents the activists and state claim to represent.
Park, Choong-Hwan, U. of California, Santa Barbara, CA - To aid research on 'Serving Peasant Family Meals to Beijing Urbanites: The City and the Country in Post-Mao China,' supervised by Dr. Mayfair Yang
CHOONG-HWAN PARK, then a student at University of California, Santa Barbara, California, received funding in December 2005 to aid research on 'Serving Peasant Family Meals to Beijing Urbanites: The City and the Country in Post-Mao China,' supervised by Dr. Mayfair Yang. Over the last two decades China has witnessed a unique form of countryside tourism called nongjiale (peasant family delights) in which Chinese urban middle-classes travel down to rural villages and consume rustic meals in farm guesthouses run by peasant families. This dissertation fieldwork explored: 1) what socio-economic implications nongjiale tourism has for China's rural village life and development; 2) how and in what politico-economic and cultural conditions nongjiale has become a locus of authenticity and nostalgia in the imagination of Chinese urban middle-classes; and 3) the broader social-historical context of post-Mao China in which nongjiale has become a socially meaningful and economically lucrative tourism commodity. The research finding is that nongjiale is not simply a symptom of 'the tourist gaze' looking for authenticity and escape from urban drudgeries but also a crucial marker of the emergence of a new cultural-political regime in post Mao China, a regime that can be conceptualized in terms of the contrast between Maoist China's emphasis on production and asceticism and post-Mao China's promotion of consumption and hedonism. This post-Mao regime of 'leisure and pleasure' not only informs the desire and fantasy of the Chinese people today but also shapes the discursive formation of rural-urban fault-lines and identities central to forging the cultural hierarchy and power structure in post-Mao China.
Khan, Dr. Naveeda, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'The Imminent, the Everyday, and the Eternal: Temporal Orientations to Climate Change in Bangladesh'
Preliminary abstract: In its 2007 report the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave Bangladesh as an example of extreme vulnerability to the effects of global climate change. Projections have placed Bangladesh as yielding 15-20 million climate refugees with one-third of the country submerged underwater by the year 2050. With this forty-year timeline increasingly constituting its future, the state is joining international allies in demanding that industrialized states assume responsibility for degrading the environment to such a catastrophic degree. Yet those Bangladeshis most likely to be affected by climate change narrate other temporal horizons that assume the future may be more open. Foremost among them are the chauras, who live on chars or silt islands deposited within the extensive river system that crisscross the country. The state, the chauras and the river exist in tension with one another in northern Bangladesh where the state has undertaken extensive engineering to control the river's waters, while excluding chars from the protection that such engineering has provided. Nonetheless, I argue that the three constitute a milieu characterized by a diversity of temporal horizons, specifically that of the imminent, the everyday and the eternal. Moreover, this milieu is lived and organized in relation to multiple possible futures. Although many of these projections are constructed experientially, they often do not come to pass as expected. It is my hypothesis that this admixture of temporal horizons, possible futures and moments of surprise keeps the future open for this milieu, although not necessarily bright, inflecting the state's alarmed response to climate change. To test my hypothesis I propose to undertake a fourteen month ethnographic project in the northern district of Sirajganj focusing on state engineering projects, chaura everyday life and river dynamics.