Saria, Vaibhav, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'The Lives of Orgasms: Sex, Intimacy and Carnality among the Hijras in Rural Orissa,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
VAIBHAV SARIA, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, received funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'The Lives of Orgasms: Sex, Intimacy and Carnality among the Hijras in Rural Orissa,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. The grantee conducted fieldwork in rural Orissa in the districts of Bhadrak and Kalahandi among the hijras, investigating the various ways in which same-sex intimacy and desire is imagined outside the city, and what were the freedom and restraints offered to this population now labeled as a sexual minority, by the globalizing of categories, narratives and desire through the AIDS International. The grantee collected narratives not only of desire, love, sex, intimacy, seduction, and flirtation to see how actions, aspirations and failures of the hijra are organized, but also collected data related to their work -- which involves, begging, prostitution, dancing and singing -- to see how the relationship between poverty and sexual desire are configured and how the carnality of both gain expression in the hijra body. These questions were studied by conducting fieldwork on different various sites -- a local NGO, mosques, the natal family in which some hijra reside, and in trains and train stations. The grantee participated in religious festivals and accompanied hijras as they performed on the occasions of birth and marriage and also as they were recruited to act in music videos and films. The grantee collected narratives about fields where sexual relations occur for pleasure and money, outside the ordered domains of family and village, and was thus able to systematically investigate the relationship between poverty and sexual desire. Given the agenda of a global program to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has brought anal sex into such scrutiny while also trying to legitimize its existence, this research addresses the contradictions that redraw the erogenous zones of the hijra through the traffic between global categories and locally embedded practices.
Masood, Ayesha, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Doctor in the House: A Study of Career Experiences of Women Doctors of Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Takeyuki Tsuda
Preliminary abstract: Under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and careers is a global problem. Despite multiple policy interventions, social and institutional barriers to women's participation, retention and success in STEM careers still persist. Women in Pakistan are a minority in the education and career of all STEM fields except medicine where, paradoxically, women medical students and graduates overwhelmingly outnumber men. Yet, this increase in number of graduates has not translated into a concomitant rise in practicing women doctors. This paradox raises important questions related to evolving gender relations in Pakistani society. To analyze the underlying dynamics of this issue, this dissertation empirically examines the individual, institutional and social factors which enable or affect the career choices of Pakistani women doctors. Through the methodological focus on the lived experiences, attitudes and practices of the women doctors in Pakistan, along with the cultural and social formations which intersect with them, this research will also provide a better understanding of the relationship between social agents and structure. In doing so, this dissertation will draw from and contribute to the anthropology of subjectivity, gender, and social justice. By integrating individual and structural perspectives in a person-centered ethnography in a non-western context, this research also contributes to literature on women in science, which usually keeps these perspectives apart and is mostly based on studies in western, industrialized societies. Focusing on the experiences of educated women in Pakistani society, this project aims to problematize the usual understanding of ideas like freedom and barriers.
Joffe, Ben Philip, U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'White Robes, Matted Hair: Tibetan Renouncers, Institutional Authority, and the Mediation of Charisma in Exile,' supervised by Dr. Carole Ann McGranahan
Preliminary abstract: What is the relationship between institutional authority and religious power in Tibetan exile? My research focuses on how the charisma and legacy of Ngagpa Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche, the former official weather controller of the Tibetan exile government - are being institutionalized and mediated in exile following his death. Ngagpa (m) and ngagma (f), are non-celibate, professional Buddhist renouncers who specialize in esoteric ritual traditions. Simultaneously existing in and straddling lay and monastic worlds, they reside in a shifting third space of accommodation and resistance to mainstream structures. With the invasion of Tibet by China in 1950, Tibetan refugees in India have struggled to make a sovereign nation legible and legitimate in exile, and to rebuild political and social institutions away from home. The once de-centralized religious traditions of virtuoso ngagpa/mas are now being preserved in durable institutions, fixed in texts, and taught increasingly to foreigners. Researching Yeshe Dorje's institution in India and its resident ngagpa/mas, I examine how the politics of ritual power are playing out in exile communities. Using ngagpa/mas' charisma as a lens through which to explore unfolding politics of reform in diaspora, I show how the forging of cultural coherence in exile involves both creativity and contradiction.
Deomampo, Dr. Daisy Faye, Fordham U., New York, NY - To aid research and writing on 'Transnational Reproduction: Kinship, Power, and Commercial Surrogacy in India' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: The proposed book project examines the global surrogacy industry in India, in which would-be parents from around the world travel to India in order to obtain assisted reproductive technology procedures such as gestational surrogacy and egg donation. Across transnational and local socioeconomic hierarchies, how do commissioning parents, surrogate mothers, and egg donors understand and articulate their relationships with one another as they collaborate in the creation of babies? In addressing this question, I show the diverse ways in which actors attempt to conceal, or misrecognize, the commercial and commodifying aspects of transnational reproduction. My book, Transnational Reproduction: Kinship, Power, and Commercial Surrogacy in India, grapples with disparate acts of misrecognition, arguing that such processes of misrecognition ultimately obscure broader patterns of stratification, while reinforcing socioeconomic hierarchies. I draw critical attention to global relations between and among countries, systems of commerce, and global regulatory systems, as well as the local conditions that make possible the kinds of transnational relationships I describe. Without such an analysis, ongoing debates around policy and bioethics remain problematically focused on abstract principles or rigid rules. Instead, this project calls for a practice-oriented approach that accounts for the multiple perspectives and experiences of those involved in transnational surrogacy. Based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, this book will make an important contribution to the fields of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, feminist studies, and bioethics.
Yang, Xiao-Hui, U. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA - To aid research on 'Actively Aging in Traditional Chinese Medicine,' supervised by Dr. Joseph S. Alter
DAISY XIAO-HUI YANG, then a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received funding in December 2003 to aid research on 'Actively Aging in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM),' supervised by Dr. Joseph S. Alter. In her research project, the grantee conducted fieldwork in Wuhan, China, focusing on how TCM enables elderly Chinese to exercise more control over their bodies than is allowed when aging is treated as a problem through exclusive medical intervention. Aiming to compare aging experiences in institutionalized and non-institutionalized contexts, Yang examined five overlapping settings: 1) a local 'University for the Aged'; 2) informal, semi-structured elderly social health-promotion groups; 3) commercialized TCM practice settings; 4) traditional Chinese medical institutions; and 5) biomedical institutions. Through participant observation and extended interviews, she examined the issues of: 1) the attitudes of the elderly toward aging and their understandings of healthy aging; 2) how people classified as elderly actively control the way in which they experience aging as an embodied process. 3) how TCM based self-care enables individuals to exercise agency and thereby construct a life based on health in an environment where social support is increasingly limited. Upon approaching TCM as a broad way of thinking and living rather than merely a disease-oriented and institutionalized medical system, Yang concluded that TCM enables the elderly to view the aging process not as inherently problematic or degenerative, but merely as embodied transformations through time that must be and can be managed. Moreover, in the context of significant demographic and policy changes toward health care and social support, TCM enables the elderly to take a more active role in building up, maintaining, and restoring their health, especially within the context of non-institutionalized health care settings in China.
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.