Setton, Emily Gayong, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on "Land, Law & Indigenous Media: Building Political Futures in Highland Burma," supervised by Dr. Annelise Riles
Preliminary abstract: Kachin activists in highland Burma find themselves at a conjuncture of two historic processes: top-down land reform aimed at encouraging foreign investment, and the possible cessation of decades of conflict between ethnic armed groups and the Burma army. My dissertation looks at the ways in which Kachin activists, and the armed group leaders they work with, anticipate and bring into being a political future after peace, through a vision of federalism simultaneously rooted in the past and grounded in the tenuous realities of the present.
Lau, Chi Chung, New School for Social Research, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Imitation by Design: The Politics of Shanzhai in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Hugh Raffles
Preliminary abstract: 'Shanzhai,' a word drawn from classical Chinese literature that originally describes mountain villages occupied by rebellious bandits, now refers to an unusual form of fakes and counterfeits in China. What people call a 'shanzhai iPhone,' for example, is not exactly a fake. Instead, the unique design features that come with the knockoff product arguably make the shanzhai iPhone an even better product (at least in some respects) than its original counterpart. While these shanzhai products imitate, they show surprising innovation and creativity. The unusual strategy of manufacture and design of shanzhai, together with its surprising (and sometimes illegal) tweaks and local customizations, not only make the shanzhai product extremely popular in China, it has also made the shanzhai into a form of totem. Rather than merely being a copy of established (Western) brands or products, the shanzhai is often regarded in China as 'design for the people,' 'grassroots innovation,' or even as a rebellious response to power and the establishment. This research intends to understand: 1.The emergence of shanzhai electronics manufacturing in China. 2.The relationships between shanzhai manufacturing and the cultural history of modern China. 3.The political space and forms of opposition and accommodation created and expressed by shanzhai design.
Zia, Ather, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Politics of Absence: Women Searching for the Disappeared in Kashmir,' supervised by Dr. Victoria Bernal
ATHER ZIA, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Politics of Absence: Women Searching for the Disappeared in Kashmir,' supervised by Dr. Victoria Bernal. Since 1989 Kashmir has been engulfed in an anti-India armed militancy. Approximately 8,000 to 10,000 men have disappeared in the Indian counter-insurgency actions. Kashmiri women have assumed the task of caring for families in the absence of men. They have organized to search for those who have been subjected to enforced disappearance after being arrested by the Indian army. The research explores why some Kashmiri women become activists, what factors sustain their political struggle, and how their work as women redefines notions of activism, and public engagement in a primarily Islamic social context. The resulting dissertation focuses on understanding the questions of agency, affect, ethics, and emotion, memorialization, and mourning, in this kin-based activism.
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.
Yen, Dr.Yueh-Ping, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom - To aid research and writing on 'In Search of True Characters: An Anthropological Study of Chinese Calligraphy and Writing' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
Markkula, Johanna Sofia Kristina, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Navigators of the Social Ocean: Filipino Seafarers and Coastguards in the Global Maritime World,' supervised by Dr. Liisa Malkki
Preliminary abstract: My research is a study of the maritime world and the people who occupy it as workers. Through ethnographic fieldwork with Filipino seafarers on international merchant ships, with coastguards in the Philippines involved in the South China Sea conflict, and with the actors and institutions that make up the global maritime world, this project takes the sea seriously as a social, political and legal space that is of great importance to our contemporary society, yet paradoxically seems to exist outside of it. I will explore how the sea as a social and political space influences the everyday lives of maritime workers in specific ways and also how these maritime workers shape and reproduce global processes through their everyday practices of labor and social relations. Finally, I will also map out the complex system of capitalist strategies, legal logics and regulatory forces of states and institutions that make up the global maritime world and articulate in complex ways with the life-worlds of its workers. By engaging critically with theories of globalization, global governance, territoriality and sovereignty, my research will show how such abstract concepts and processes exist in the concrete as 'work' carried out by people such as seafarers and coastguards.
Reeves, Dr. Madeleine Frances, U. of Manchester, Manchester, UK - To aid workshop on 'Rethinking the Political in Central Asia: Perspectives from the Anthropology of the State,' 2009, Buxton, UK, in collaboration with Dr. Johan Rasanaygam
'Rethinking the Political in Central Asia: Perspectives from the Anthropology of the State'
September 14-16, 2009, Buxton, United Kingdom
Organizers: Madeleine Reeves (University of Manchester) and Johan Rasanaygam (University of Aberdeen)
Designed to bring ethnographic research in Central Asia into long-overdue conversation with recent political anthropological debate on the state, this workshop had two specific aims. First, by attending ethnographically to the various ways in which the 'state' in Central Asia is practically enacted, morally navigated, remembered, invoked, and contested in daily life, the meeting sought to question the categorical distinctions that inform much regional scholarship: between 'state' and 'society,' between 'strong' and 'weak' states, between states that are 'failed' and those that are functioning. Second, the workshop sought to bring Central Asian ethnography into broader comparative debate about everyday state formation in recent theoretical anthropology. This region has been largely absent from the rich stream of edited collections that have reinvigorated the ethnography of the state in the last decade. This is despite the fact that the states of Central Asia, which
emerged from the collapsing Soviet Union with few of the prerequisites for 'independence,' provide a wealth of ethnographic material for comparative anthropological debate. By bringing together scholars of Central Asia with four
discussants whose work has been seminal in reframing theoretical debate on the state, the workshop worked to enrich regional scholarship and to advance the comparative potential of political anthropology.
Reeves, Madeleine, Johan Rasanayagam, and Judith Beyer (eds.) 2014. Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia: Performing Politics. Indiana University Press: Bloomington.