Hsieh, Jennifer Chia-Lynn, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Sound and Noise in the City: Public Sensibilities and Technocratic Translation in Taipei's Aural Cityscape,' supervised by Dr. Miyako Inoue
Preliminary abstract: For the last 30 years, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Agency has implemented noise control standards in efforts to reduce the noise level on the island. While their efforts have succeeded in lowering the decibel levels around the island, citizens perceive Taiwan as noisier than ever. This paradox illustrates that sound in the form of noise is a contentious topic and reflects political claims about one's self-identification as a modern, Taiwanese subject. I focus on the problem of noise in Taipei as a uniquely urban discourse. Through city efforts toward urban re-development and the influx of new migrants from rural Taiwan and Southeast Asia, Taipei is fast becoming an even more densely-populated, diverse space for a number of urban subjects. I argue that the governance of noise creates a new paradigm in the delineation of urban space that restructures the urban experience through ways of hearing. By situating an ethnographic project within both government agencies and individual communities in Taipei, I draw attention to the imbricate nature between the technocratic system that produces a set of noise control standards and the everyday practices of individuals who either react, circumvent, perpetuate, or manipulate such standards toward their own diverse set of interests.
Starr, Julie Elisabeth, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Cultivating the Ideal Body in China: Race, Suzhi, and Beauty in Contemporary Shanghai,' supervised by Dr. John R. Shepherd
Preliminary Abstract: Over the last decade China has seen sales of skin whitening products and cosmetic surgical procedures mushroom into billion dollar businesses. Thousands of upwardly mobile young Chinese women have sought to change their bodies in the pursuit of career and personal advancement. This ethnographic research project examines cultural practices of cosmetic body modification and improvement in China's largest and most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai. I am interested in two interrelated topics for understanding contemporary Chinese society: the ways the categories of 'China' and the 'West' may be mobilized in racial ways and the ways state projects of improving the quality of the population in China are interpreted and negotiated by women in daily practices of bodily improvement. My project focuses specifically on the social processes of everyday body culture and the local production of racial categories. This research builds on and contributes to anthropological literatures of race and embodiment in China, and beauty and body modification. I propose to conduct a twelve-month ethnographic project in Shanghai, where I will focus on the social space of beauty salons, an ideal site for my research because of the plethora of body treatments salons offer, from haircuts and facials to minor cosmetic surgeries (e.g., double eye-lid surgery). My project will contribute to anthropological interests in the social construction of race and how culturally constructed ideas of the body, including distinctions between the 'natural' body and the modified body, incorporate racial categories.
Cieslak, Jacqueline Elizabeth, U.of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Rites of Sanitation: Caste, Cleanliness, and Development in Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Ravindra Khare
Preliminary abstract: Drawing on 14 months of ethnographic research with two prominent NGOs in India's capital city, Delhi, my research explores the relationship between cultural ideas about cleanliness, the social relations that produce it, and sanitation development work in India. With increasingly rapid urbanization and limited sanitation infrastructure, Delhi, a sprawling metropolis of some 22 million residents, has a crucial need for improved mechanisms for handling human waste. In development discourse this improvement is conceived as a linear trajectory from a caste-based manual scavenging model -- in which cleanliness is understood in terms of purity and produced in the relationships between hierarchically-arranged communities and persons -- to a mechanized waste management model -- in which cleanliness is configured in terms of hygiene and practiced by disciplined, autonomous individuals as a civic responsibility. Despite the clarity of this trajectory in popular discourse, my preliminary research has found that organizations in Delhi orient themselves in radically different ways relative to the interrelated issues of social organization and cleanliness in these two models. By exploring how two NGOs draw on models of purity and/or hygiene to generate both their internal organizations and development programs, this comparative project will contribute an understanding of: a) how caste is made and unmade in relation to waste in urban India, and b) how orientations toward cleanliness and social relations constitute different ethical universes that create the conditions under which development programs either reproduce or break established social forms.
Moerman, Dr. Michael, Nevada City, CA - To aid preparation of personal research materials for archival deposit with the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre at Chiengmai University, Bangkok, Thailand
Joshi, Dr. Vibha, U. of Oxford, Oxford, UK - To aid research on 'Naga Textiles as Diasporic Objects in the Field and in Museums During and Since Colonialism'
DR. VIBHA JOSHI, University of Oxford, Oxford, England, was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Naga Textiles as Diasporic Objects in the Field and in Museums During and Since Colonialism.' The grant was used to fund archival and object based research in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and fieldwork in Nagaland, India. The grant covered the research period from January 2006 to January 2007 for the ongoing research on Naga textiles as diasporic objects in the field and in museums during and since colonialism. Nearly a hundred Lotha and Angami Naga textiles from the Pitt Rivers Museum collection were examined and photographed. Archival photos, records and correspondence between the collectors and the director of the Pitt Rivers Museum in the Museum archives were studied. The photographs of textiles were taken to Nagaland for further information which also included identification of textiles which had scant information labels. Women weavers including entrepreneurs and master weavers were interviewed to get information on the current design, production and distribution of textiles within Angami and Lotha Naga area. The study brought to the fore the similarities and differences among the Lotha and Angami in their practice of weaving and the transmission of the knowledge of weaving to the younger generation. The fieldwork revealed the continuing loss of older designs and an increasing decline in the number of girls learning to weave, as many mothers are themselves giving up weaving. The photos of older textiles (dating from 1914-1940s) from the Pitt Rivers Museum collection that I took with me to Nagaland in 2006 were appreciated and greeted with surprise by the weavers, since the particular designs had been regarded as permanently lost.
Thufail, Fadjar I., U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'Confusion, Conversion, and Riot: Religious Anxiety and Mass Violence in Urban Indonesia, 1998,' supervised by Dr. Kenneth M. George
FADJAR I. THUFAIL, while a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, was awarded funding in July 2001 to aid research on religious anxiety and mass violence in urban Indonesia in 1998, under the supervision of Dr. Kenneth M. George. Three central questions guided the field research: What conditions and forces prompted people to get involved in-or avoid-the Indonesian riots of May 1998 that led to President Suharto's resignation? How did perpetrators, victims, and witnesses differently understand these riots in light of contemporary political crises, talk about conversion to Christianity, and past events of anti-Chinese violence? And in what ways did the verbal and visual signs evoked during the rioting and in subsequent public discourse reflect the certainties and uncertainties of religious, ethnic, racial, and national identity? Thufail also devoted attention to representations of the riot and its political contestation. Some preliminary findings: Most respondents denied that the riots were religiously motivated. The absence of religious issues suggested that among certain groups of narrators, changes had taken place in the narrative appropriation of violence. Moreover, different state agents produced their own narratives. The official Fact Finding Team's narrative served as the higher-order narrative that shaped other narratives. Besides state agents, media institutions also shaped the ways in which people told their stories of the riots. As a consequence, the strong institutional agenda found in the riot narratives had overwhelmed most attempts to represent the narratives as stories of experience.
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.
Padwe, Jonathan, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Genocide, Development and Belonging in Cambodia: The Phnong of the Northeast Hills,' supervised by Dr. Michael R. Dove
JOHNATHAN PADWE, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded funding in May 2004 to aid research on 'Genocide, Development and Belonging in Cambodia: The Phnong of the Northeast Hills,' supervised by Dr. Michael R. Dove. The subject of this research is the use of memories of genocide within the political debates surrounding 'development' among highland minorities in northeast Cambodia. Wenner-Gren funding supported the first year of a projected two and a half years of fieldwork. Research for this initial period consisted of five months of research in Phnom Penh among policy makers and staff of NGO and government agencies working on land titling and agricultural development, and seven months in Mondulkiri Province, both in the provincial capital and in Dak Dam village. Initial work in Phnom Penh resulted in the establishment of a network of contacts and the acquisition of reports and documents. Key accomplishments included significant improvement of language ability (in Khmer), the collection of extensive interview data regarding agriculture and land titling, and a refinement of the research questions. As a result of reviewer comments and feedback from this network, the initial focus on hunting has been deemphasized in the research program. Fieldwork in Mondulkiri province included developing contacts within the development community based in the provincial capital, initial visits to Dak Dam village, and eventually an extended period of fieldwork in Dak Dam. Data collected included participant observation and interview data about ongoing development projects, villagers' encounters with development, agricultural practices, such as the establishment of swidden fields, and cultural and religious activities, such as calendric agricultural ceremonies. During this period the Cambodian government granted a large land concession to a Malaysian pine-plantation enterprise, and villagers in affected areas (including Dak Dam) began protests.
Walker, Christopher, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Social Life of Open-Source Software in Tibet,' supervised by Dr. John D. Kelly
CHRISTOPHER E. WALKER, while a student at the University of Chicago, was awarded a grant in August 2003 to research the social conditions of Tibetan language software development, under the supervision of Dr. John D. Kelly. Central to the research was a study of the Tibetan block of 'Unicode,' the de facto standard for encoding the world's natural languages in computer systems. More than a decade ago, Tibet University in Lhasa (China) played a central role in this emergent and powerful standard. This feat has been celebrated by the Chinese press, which often highlights any state support of science and technology within minority areas. Curiously, however, the study of more recent technical proposals and computer projects involving Tibetan language reveal that China has mixed reactions to the very standard it helped create. Contrary to the philosophy of Unicode, namely that every language should have only one set of codes, China has recently used the 'private use area' of Unicode to define a second, competing standard for Tibetan. The official reasons given for creating two standards for Tibetan language are mainly technical and pragmatic. A deeper analysis has revealed that economic pressure, educational background, and the social environment play a pivotal role in the development of Tibetan information technology in China.
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.