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.
Chaturvedi, Ruchi, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Criminal Enmities: State, Party Workers and the Law in South India,' supervised by Dr. E. Valentine Daniel
RUCHI CHATURVEDI, while a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in May 2002 to aid research on 'Criminal Enmities: State, Party Workers and the Law in South India,' supervised by Dr. E. Valentine Daniel. Research centered around political party workers of the Marxist left and the Hindu right in Northern Kerala who have used relentless violence against each other for over three decades. Field research for the dissertation project proceeded from the following questions: What are the details of the party workers' social histories and biographies? What roles and performances mark their careers and what is their relevance for the functioning of the democratic state? What are the contexts and modes in which workers oft11ese parties usurp the state's defining feature: its monopoly over the use of physical force? Party workers form communities tied together by bonds of friendship and kinship, and religious and other ideologies. Those not perceived as 'friends' and 'brothers' are classified as enemies. Political practice gets directed towards elimination of this enemy, and violence ensues. This is a logic that also finds place within democracies but poses grave challenges to the ideals of rightful democratic practice. In KeraIa, as in other parts of India and the world, the State paradoxically becomes both the site of the political contest as well as the agent of violence against enemies of one or another group, thereby creating its own enemy. Research was thus directed at examining how the State-judiciary enacts its authority only by transfiguring the State subject into the State enemy through violence. Party workers are caught in this whirl of varied antagonistic claims to authority and violence. The question of necessity of this violence in the practice and preservation of democracy is the central ethical problem that is posed and engaged with in the dissertation.
Walker, Dr. Andrew, Australian National U., Canberra, Australia - To aid research on 'Indigenous Hydrological Knowledge and Dry-Season Agriculture in Upland Catchments of Northern Thailand'
DR. ANDREW WALKER, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, received funding in December 2002 to aid research on 'Indigenous Hydrological Knowledge and Dry-Season Agriculture in Upland Catchments of Northern Thailand.' The objective of this project was to investigate the role of 'indigenous hydrological knowledge' in relation to agricultural decision-making in the dry season in upland areas of northern Thailand. Research was undertaken in two villages in Samoeng district in Chiang Mai province. Overall, there appear to be relatively few local 'indicators' used to estimate the likely supply of water during the dry season. The key indicators are the obvious ones, the level of water in the main water sources. The most important assessments about water supply appear to be made in the early months of the dry season, but often after decisions about cropping have already been made. Local knowledge about hydrological issues appears to be strongly influenced by prevailing state discourse. State agencies regularly assert (using a range of methods, including roadside signs) that reductions in forest cover are the principle cause of hydrological imbalance (dry season water shortage and wet season flooding). These views are regularly repeated in local discussions. The research indicates that dry season agricultural activity is primarily driven by economic factors. Decision-making about the extent of cropping and the choice of crops is influenced primarily by assessments of likely yield and financial return. These assessments are based principally on crop performance in previous years. New crops are initially adopted by innovators and are then adopted more widely if they prove to be successful. Availability of credit is also an important factor.
Lin, Emily Xi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Disability's Star-Children: Autism and the Remaking of Urban China's Moral Order,' supervised by Dr. Stefan Helmreich
EMILY XI LIN, then a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Disability's Star-Children: Autism and the Remaking of Urban China's Moral Order,' supervised by Dr. Stefan Helmreich. This research contributes a multi-sited ethnography of the social life of autism as a psychiatric category in contemporary China. Based on multi-sited ethnography in homes, clinics, autism rehabilitation centers, and philanthropic organizations, the project pays attention to the social meanings and practices of autism caregiving in contemporary China amidst social, educational, and urban-rural healthcare disparities. It is argued that autism illuminates moral crises in three domains: parent-child relations, rural-urban healthcare disparities, and citizens' disquiet with Chinese society's apparent lack of humanity. This thesis investigates how citizens themselves perceive deficiencies in Chinese morality, civility, and scientific literacy, and how these deficiencies are thrown into relief by the needs of autistic persons. While China's biomedical institutions and humanitarian organizations foster novel autism parental practices and ethics in the name of true parental love and scientific modernity, the grantee argues that these efforts shift the burden of care of autistic persons from the state to families, thus increasing the burden of care on rural families in China. In paying attention to how disabled citizens are nurtured or neglected due to choices made by 'good' or 'selfish' parents, findings demonstrate how moral categories are key to post-socialist governmentality-the art, techniques, and practices of governance-in China.