Abelmann, Dr. Nancy, U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL; and Dr. Hae-Joang Cho, Yonsei U., Seoul, South Korea - To aid collaborative research on 'The Anxious South Korean Student: Globalization, Human Capital, and Class'
Shneiderman, Dr. Sara Beth, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Restructuring Life: Citizenship, Territory and Religiosity in Nepal's State of Transition'
Preliminary abstract: How do we imagine the ideal state that we aspire to live in? I address this question in anthropological terms through a multi-sited ethnography of state restructuring in Nepal since 2006. In the wake of a decade-long civil conflict between Maoist and state forces in this erstwhile unitary Himalayan kingdom turned secular democratic federal republic of nearly 30 million, I transpose Victor Turner's long-standing 'invitation to investigators of ritual to focus their attention on the phenomena and processes of mid-transition' (1967: 110) to the political realm. Despite a 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and 2008 Constituent Assembly elections, a new constitution has yet to be promulgated, making 2014 the eighth year of Nepal's 'mid-transition'. I ask: In this temporally protracted liminal state, how do discourses and practices of restructuring articulated at the national and global level work to produce affective experiences of transformation for ordinary citizens in a range of locales outside the political center of Kathmandu? How do these experiences of transformation shape the political consciousness and aspirations of individuals and collectivities? How are such aspirations expressed in discursive and material terms, and what do they tell us about the structural and functional dimensions of the imagined state of the future? Finally, how do such localized imaginaries of ideal state structure intersect with national and transnational visions of order as articulated by both Nepali and international institutional actors? I address these questions through a focus on the domains of citizenship, territory and religiosity as spaces within which imaginaries of the state's functions and structures in transition are revealed in both material and discursive terms.
Morton, Micah Francis, U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'Negotiating the Changing Zomia of Mainland Southeast Asia: Akha Identitarian Politics,' supervised by Dr. Katherine A. Bowie
MICAH F. MORTON, then a student at University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Negotiating the Changing Zomia of Mainland Southeast Asia: Akha Indentitarian Politics,' supervised by Dr. Katherine A. Bowie. Between June 2011 and May 2012, the researcher conducted twelve months of fieldwork with certain members of the Akha indigenous group in Thailand who are involved in efforts to promote a more formal sense of belonging among Akha throughout the Upper Mekong Region - including East Burma, Southwest China, Northwest Laos and North Thailand. It was found that a growing number of Akha are participating in various activities being arranged as part of the movement and that a cross-border sense of belonging is developing. These activities ranged from Akha literacy training workshops to cultural festivals and formal meetings held to discuss how to go about preserving and modifying 'traditional' Akha culture. It was further found, however, that the cross-border sense of belonging that is developing exists beneath the various national level senses of belonging that different Akha communities have depending upon their particular country of residence. In short, Akha in Thailand for the most part see themselves as being Thai first and foremost and members of an international Akha community only second. Last, it was found that the cultural and linguistic emphasis of the movement fails to address the more practical concerns faced by the general Akha community.
Fiol, Stefan P., U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'The Politics of Performance and Place among Pahari Musicians in Uttaranchal,' supervised by Dr. Charles Capwell
STEFAN P. FIOL, then a student at University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, received funding in October 2004 to aid research on 'The Politics of Performance and Place among Pahari Musicians in Uttaranchal,' supervised by Dr. Charles Capwell. The dissertation research carried out in Uttaranchal, North India, from November 2004 through September 2005 focused on the formation of a regional music industry, and the influence this has on local musical practices. The nature of my subject matter led me to explore different kinds of contexts in which music is produced, distributed, and consumed, thus necessitating a multi-sited research methodology. I traced the paths of musical consumption, distribution, and production through various villages, hill towns, and plains cities, exploring the historical and social processes through which the regional music of Uttaranchal (Garhwal and Kumaon) becomes codified and reinterpreted by various actors. I hope that this dissertation will be of use to scholars, policy-makers, and artists interested in understanding how commercialization transforms the landscape of musical life in the conext of this newly-formed hill state.
Fiol, Stefan. 2010. Dual Framing: Locating Authenticities in the Music Vide3os of Himalayan Possession Rituals. Ethnomusicology 54(1):28-53.
Zorbas, Konstantinos, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Interactions Between Shamans and Clients in a Siberian City,' supervised by Dr. Piers G. Vitebsky
KONSTANTINOS ZORBAS, while a student at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, was awarded a grant in March 2003 to aid research on interactions between shamans and clients in a Siberian city, under the supervision of Dr. Piers G. Vitebsky. Zorbas studied episodes of illness and performances of shamanic healing in the city Kyzyl, Republic of Tyva, Russia. Focusing principally on healing interactions between shamans and their clients, he found that occurrences of psychosomatic suffering were effectively managed by being explained as results of witchcraft or curses practiced by an enemy. Follow-up evaluations of patients' post-treatment conditions led to the conclusion that shamanic healing entailed therapeutic effects, even for clients who reported prior recourse to professional medical treatment with partial or no positive results. The efficacy of shamanic healing was seen to lie in the use of certain literal and metaphoric elements of ritual language that engaged both shaman and patient in a process of recollecting and restructuring traumatic memories. Similarities in the responses elicited from shamans and patients regarding their experiences of the therapeutic process suggested that the experience of healing was embodied through culturally mediated sensory modes of attention to the performance. Zorbas concluded that the meaning the experience of illness held for the patient derived from a psychologically embedded preoccupation with cursing and its implications. Shamanic healing went beyond the limits of the consultation to evoke an overall transformation in the patient's awareness of self.
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.