Farquhar, Dr. Judith B., U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; and Zhang, Dr. Qicheng, Beijing, China - To aid collaboration on practices of cultivating life: yang sheng and everyday life in Beijing
DR. JUDITH B. FARQUHAR, then at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; and DR. QICHENG ZHANG, Beijing University, Beijing, China, were awarded an International Collaborative Research Grant in July 2002, to aid collaborative research on 'Practices of Cultivating Life: Yangsheng and Everyday Life in Beijing.' Yangsheng, or nurturing life, is a rubric that in China today incorporates medical selfcare, nutrition, exercise, daily habits, hobbies, and healthful dispositions. Yangsheng offers a vision of a good society rooted in wholesome lives, combining notions of life, the person, and the social world. This project has been an anthropological investigation of this complex indigenous category and social theory. An American anthropologist and a Chinese philosopher have here collaborated to understand how contemporary Beijingers configure lives in ways indebted both to cultural tradition and Maoist mobilization, both idiomatically Chinese and modernistically global. The research looked at unique modern Chinese values and proclivities at work: 1) an emphasis on life nurturance as pure enjoyment; 2) an emphasis on everyday life activism; 3) a depoliticized but quiet politics, visible in the ways large groups occupy public space to nurture their lives; 4) resonances among official health propaganda, informants' common sense, and esoteric Chinese philosophies. Theoretical questions also arose: the nature of the political, the charging of urban space in practice, the 'life' of 'tradition,' the constitution of meaning in the practice of the everyday. Publications have appeared from this project, notably three articles by Judith Farquhar and several mass market books by Qicheng Zhang. A co-authored English-language monograph from the study is in press with Zone Books.
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.
Zhang, Amy Qiubei, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Recycled Cities: Remaking Waste in Post-reform Urban China,' supervised by Dr. Helen F. Siu
AMY ZHANG, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Recycled Cities: Remaking Waste in Post-reform Urban China,' supervised by Dr. Helen F. Siu. This research examines contention around the modernization of waste infrastructure against the backdrop of rapid urbanization in China. After 30 years of economic reform activists warn that, if China fails to develop more efficient ways of managing garbage in cities, its residents will experience a waste crisis. During eighteen months of fieldwork, the researcher collected data through interviews and participant observation, by following incineration experts and activists, tracking informal and formal recycling schemes, and working with communities who are devising new organic waste treatment technologies with an eye to examining how waste-instead of being treated as objects to be discarded-was transformed into things of value. The research focused on how different types of waste (e.g, recyclable or organic) are classified, processed, and transformed through technologies, labor, and environmental practices. Debates around waste intersect with efforts at making 'modern' citizens and cities. At the same time the success and failure of each of these new waste treatment schemes reflects increased citizen advocacy against pollution and their skepticism towards the ability of governments and experts to create the modern cities they have promised.
Gohain, Swargajyoti, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Contested Boundaries: Region, Religion and Development in the Borderlands of North East India,' supervised by Dr. Bruce M. Knauft
SWARGAJYOTI GOHAIN, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Contested Boundaries: Region, Religion and Development in the Borderlands of North East India,' supervised by Dr. Bruce M. Knauft. This project conducted fieldwork in western Arunachal Pradesh in North East India -- more specifically, Tawang and West Kameng districts -- between January and November 2010, which constituted the second phase of research. The project concerns spatial discourses among the Monpas of Arunachal Pradesh, a Tibetan Buddhist community who live in the border areas of India, Tibet, and Bhutan. It examines the narratives around the contemporary Monpa demand for autonomy and language politics -- as well as past and present narratives of origin, marriage, and migration -- to show how familiar geographies are contested and alternative geographies imagined. The transnational as well as pan-regional elements reflected in these disparate yet linked narratives chart an imagined geography that does not map onto existing territorial divisions, and problematizes the normative geography of national spaces. This project hopes to contribute to theories of reterritorialization, as well as provide critical sub-texts on the refugee-citizen dichotomy and state-border relations.
Saraf, Ishani, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on ''Scrap-scape': Waste, Trade, and Urban Ecologies in Contemporary Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Smriti Srinivas
Preliminary abstract: In the context of urban reform in Delhi that seeks to remove 'wastes' from its landscape, my project will focus on the little understood practices of waste trade by examining the trade in metal scrap (henceforth scrap). I seek to understand how metal, which had captured the imagination of the developmentalist nation-state of India, is apprehended in the form of scrap. Through multi-sited ethnographic research conducted in 'Junk Market', India's largest metal parts market in Delhi, and Dadri dry port in the National Capital Region where scrap from transnational trade reaches Delhi, I will ask: What are the different meanings of scrap in official discourses and according to those who trade it? What are the diverse circuits of flow and multiple forms of transactions through which scrap is traded? How is scrap made marketable and what is the work of valuation that makes this possible? Through these questions, I study how the diverse activities around the trade in scrap intersect with the increasingly frequent and often abrupt interventions by regulatory institutions. I ask how they affect the livelihoods of those who participate in this landscape of scrap transformation. My hypothesis is that these activities and intersections constitute a specific type of urban ecology that I call the 'scrap-scape' which includes the scrap market, the dry port, and the movement and interaction of people and things to and from and between them that make up its processes. While official and corporate discourses frame the urban landscape as one devoid of certain materials-such as 'wastes'-and people working with them, I adopt an optic constituted by these very people and practices, and the lifeworlds that they inhabit and enact, to understand the shadowy, occluded, and underground terrain of megacities like Delhi.
Starkweather, Kathrine Elizabeth, U. of Missouri, Columbia, MO - To aid research on 'Merchant Mothers and Fisherman Fathers: Subsistence Work and Parental Investment among the Boat-dwelling Shodhagor,' supervised by Dr. Mary K. Shenk
Preliminary abstract: The nomadic Shodhagor live on small wooden boats, migrating through the rivers of rural Bangladesh while fishing and trading with the settled agricultural populations surrounding them. While they have much in common with other small-scale nomadic populations, they are highly unusual in the degree of variability in women's subsistence and parenting practices. In fact, women's strategies appear to vary more than men's, a pattern that has not been documented previously in groups of their size (i.e. Marlowe 2007; Hames 1988; Hewlett 1992; Winking et al 2011).
Chatterjee, Moyukh, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Legacies of Collective Violence: Survivors, NGOs, and the State in Gujarat, India,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Knauft
MOYUKH CHATTERJEE, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Legacies of Collective Violence: Survivors, NGOs, and the State in Gujarat, India,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Knauft. This project examines how mass violence unfolds across legal institutions of state redress and its implications for survivors and human-rights NGOs struggling for justice in India. Despite numerous official commissions of inquiry, human-rights activism, and civil society efforts, mass violence against minorities -- supported by state officials and militant rightwing organizations -- goes largely unpunished in India. By examining the production, circulation, and interpretation of police and legal documents within different state institutions, and victim and NGO efforts to challenge state impunity, this project examines state writing practices and its effects on legal accountability. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in lower courts, legal-aid NGOs, and survivors/complainants of the anti-Muslim violence in 2002, this project outlines how law courts obfuscate individual culpability, invalidate victims' testimony, and render sexual and gendered violence against minorities invisible. The study examines the role of legal and police documents in enabling the state apparatus to regulate what can be officially seen and said about public acts of mass violence involving ruling politicians and state officials, and its implications for survivors, human-rights activists, and NGOs fighting for legal justice.
Merli, Dr. Laetitia, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid on 'Shamanism Versus Neo-shamanism: Case Studies in Tuva and in Mongolia'
DR. LAETITIA MERLI, Mongolian and Siberian Studies Center, Paris, France, was awarded a grant in May 2007 to research 'Shamanism versus Neo-shamanism : Case Studies in Tuva and in Mongolia .' The focus of the study was the intercultural processes in the transmission, learning and exportation of shamanic knowledge, practices and representations between local shamans in Mongolia and in Tuva and their new western apprentices. With globalization, development of tourism and a western vogue for shamanism, some people started their quest to the East 'to take shamanism from the roots' as they think. From this confrontation, four main misunderstandings can be noted: 1) about the perception itself of what a shaman is; 2) about the access to the shamanic function and what it means to become a shaman; 3) about the system of representations; and 4) the attitude towards the therapeutic process. The collected data represent a corpus of approximately 35 hours of video rushes (practices, interviews, rituals), 20 hours of audio-recording (mainly interviews), and 8000 digital pictures.