Baig, Noman, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Capital-extraction: Esoteric Islam, Counter-terrorist Surveillance, and Corporate Finance in Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Kamran Ali
NOMAN BAIG, then a graduate student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Capital-Extraction: Esoteric Islam, Counter-Terrorist Surveillance, and Corporate Finance in Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Kamran Ali. The research focuses on the shaping of merchants' subjectivity in Karachi's contemporary marketplace. It does this by placing human experience within the matrix of the cosmological value system, driven to a large extent by Islamic moral and ethical principles, as well as everyday material conditions, determined by economic activity. In doing so, it brings together the material and spiritual in conversation with each other. This research particularly focuses on the convergence of Sufi moral discourse and meditative practices of zikr/dhikr with globalized technologies of finance capitalism. It seeks to answer: How do the two seemingly different practices converge? Modern financial practices aim to discipline merchants into becoming economic subjects accumulating capital. In contrast, the spiritual tradition of Sufi techniques shapes this excessive desire for accumulating, through the meditation (zikr/dhikr), molding the merchants into charitable subjects. Being a self-maximizing as well as a self-annihilating individual in the market, the merchant is able to contain the larger structuring of money and moral universes in everyday life. The experience generated at the threshold of accumulation and charity, the grantee argues, gives rise to an affirmative subjectivity, which perceives the unity of existence the way it is.
Suhail, Adeem, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Dead Dreams and Boys With Pistols: Rethinking Urban Violence in Lyari Town, Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. David Nugent
Preliminary abstract: Within the space of a decade, the township of Lyari transformed from a peaceful neighborhood known to be a bastion of working-class solidarity to an urban war-zone marked by violence between street gangs organized along ethnic lines. This study seeks to answer the question why. Hitherto, anthropological inquiry has either taken an 'objectivist' route that explains urban violence as a by-product of 'larger forces'; or a 'subjectivist' approach that highlights the lived experience of precariousness. However, between the analytical binaries of global/local and space/place are people who constantly innovate and reorganize their lives in response to circumstances that are not of their own making. This research project explores a 'third way' between objectivist and subjectivist approaches. It tests the hypothesis that urban violence can be explained through a close study of the evolution of social organization. It further explores the merits of the claim that evolving social forms mediate between local actors and global forces and constitute the optimal analytic scale through which to understand the recurrent and ubiquitous phenomenon of urban violence in our times.
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.
Kim, Ji Eun, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Building the Future and Mapping the Past: Urban Regeneration and Politics of Memory in Yokohama, Japan,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer Robertson
JI EUN KIM, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Building the Future and Mapping the Past: Urban Regeneration and Politics of Memory in Yokohama, Japan,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer Robertson. Based on eleven months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Kotobuki district, Yokohama City, this research project delved into the institutionalization of a marginalized enclave shaped around the enterprise of protecting and managing the lives of the homeless in Japan. In order to understand the malleability and constancy of Kotobuki district as an urban underclass enclave, this research delved into three aspects: 1) the historical junctures that led to the institutionalization of the homeless support activities in Kotobuki based on the agenda to secure 'the right to survive;' 2) the spatial politics that places Kotobuki district at the hub of the homeless rescue regime that stretches out to the city, and the place-making activities within the district shaping it as an asylum town; and 3) the emergent social critique and alternative aspirations of life amidst the dialogic learning among diverse actors (the homeless, welfare recipients, activists, volunteers, welfare and medical experts) in Kotobuki.
Ghassem-Fachandi, Parvis, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'The Political Use of Ahimsa (Non-Violence) and Vegetarianism in Post-Independent Ahmedabad,' supervised by Dr. James T. Siegel
PARVIS GHASSEM-FACHANDI, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, received funding in February 2005 to aid research on 'The Political Use of Ahimsa (Non-Violence) and Vegetarianism in Post-Independent Ahmedabad,' supervised by Dr. James T. Siegel. This project focused on the question, 'How can a doctrine of nonviolence become implicated in the production of violence?' by exploring the political use of the concept of ahimsa (nonviolence) in post-independence Ahmedabad. It followed the transformation of ahimsa -- from a magical technology that protects the sacrifier against the revenge of the animal victim, to an ethical doctrine of renunciation and prohibition of animal sacrifice, to a weapon against colonial domination, and finally, to a new form of politico-religious identification. Far from being only an abstract ethical ideal, ahimsa in Gujarat encompasses concrete cultural practices such as vegetarianism, cow- and animal protection, and forms of worship (sacrifice), all of which are implicated in caste upward mobility, Hindu-Muslim relations, and communal violence.
Ghassem-Fachandi, Parvis. 2010. Ahimsa, Identification, and Sacrifice in the Gujarat Pogrom. Social Anthropology 18(2):155-175.
Bordia, Devika, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Local Governance Through Panchayats: Indigeneity, Law, and Sovereignty in Western India,' supervised by Dr. Thomas B. Hansen
DEVIKA BORDIA, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Local Governance through Panchayats: Indigeneity, Law, and Sovereignty in Western India,' supervised by Dr. Thomas B. Hansen. This project examines the relationship between legal and governmental institutions of the state, tribal panchayats, local community institutions. The grantee conducted fieldwork in the 'tribal' region of Southern Udaipur, Western India, tracing cases related to murder, violence, land claims and domestic disputes. The ways in which these cases were addressed involved complex negotiations between leaders of tribal panchayats, the police, lawyers and magistrates. This revealed how supposedly distinct legal systems are in effect a range of overlapping institutions, actors, artifacts and languages that evoke various formations of individual and community. Articulations of crime and violence within legal codes, though abstracted from local contexts for the sake of objectivity, are reflective of people and place and assume certain ideas of what it means to be 'tribal.' The project also examines the way in which language and ideas of the law weave into the fabric of everyday life and are used by leaders of panchayats in their work of dispute resolution. The grantee conducted extensive interviews and traveled with local leaders to understand the different ways they gain visibility and derive legitimacy. An examination of state organizations, NGOs and different social movements demonstrate how ideas of indigeneity are generated through their work, and the ways these ideas find their way into every day legal processes.
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.
Porter, Natalie Hannah, U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'Threatening Lives: Controlling Avian Flu in Vietnam's Poultry Economy,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Ann Bowie
NATALIE H. PORTER, then a student at University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, received funding in May 2008 to aid research on 'Threatening Lives: Controlling Avian Flu in Vietnam's Poultry Economy,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Ann Bowie. This project uses comparative ethnographic research at three sites of avian influenza management in Vietnam to explore how expanding global health efforts against avian influenza alter Vietnamese poultry economies in ways that create new and contested boundaries between humans and animals. Participant-observation of two avian influenza interventions in Hanoi reveals how global health experts, state agents, and non-governmental workers construct bird flu risks according to varying political and economic positions, in which controlling disease emerges as one of several objects of concern. Further, ethnographic research in two socioeconomically distinct communities demonstrates how poultry producers reformulate official risk constructs according to distinct knowledge systems, which are based primarily upon interpersonal networks, kin hierarchies, and phenomenological experience. Central to the diverse understandings of bird flu risks in both global health arenas and in rural farming communities are contestations over the appropriate role of animals in human socioeconomic systems, and conflicts over the value of agricultural livelihoods in a standardizing, market-oriented economy.
Porter, Natalie. 2013. Bird Flu Biopower:Strategies for Multispecies Coexistence in Viet Nam. American Ethnologist 40(1):132-148.
Haines, Dr. David W., George Mason U., Fairfax, VA - To aid workshop on 'Wind Over Water: An Anthropology of Migration in an East Asian Setting,' 2008, U. of California-Berkeley
'Wind Over Water: An Anthropology of Migration in an East Asian Setting'
November 17-18, 2008, the Institute for East Asian Studies at UC-Berkeley, Berkeley, California
Organizer: Dr. David W. Haines (George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia)
Developing an inclusive anthropology that bridges national, cultural, and linguistic divides is a difficult process, but one that promises a far broader intellectual and practical platform from which anthropology can engage with truly global social issues. As a test case of that kind of inclusive anthropology, this workshop examines the dynamics, trends, and meanings of East Asian migration, with particular attention to the ways an understanding of migration grounded in Asian experience and Asian thought can complement and challenge a body of migration research, theory, policy, and practice that has been largely based on the North American and European experiences-and on North American and European ways of viewing those experiences. This choice of East Asia as a test case has both topical and procedural advantages. In terms of topic, the East Asian material is especially helpful in indicating the interaction between internal and international migration, the degree to which out and in-migration are often offsetting, the frequency with which migration is of unclear duration, and the varying configurations through which national and local governments, citizens, migrants, and activists work toward some balance of social inclusion and cultural diversity. In terms of process, the East Asian case permits the inclusion of scholars whose voices are often absent from the English-language literature but who represent well-developed societies in economic and political terms, and also long-established anthropological traditions. Such East Asian scholars are thus in a particularly good position to provide fresh views that complement and challenge European and North American anthropology.