Chang, Abdul Haque, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on ''Voices of Fishermen of the Indus Delta in National Water Governance and Environmental Narratives',' supervised by Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali
ABDUL HAQUE CHANG, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'Voices of Fishermen of the Indus Delta in National Water Governance and Environmental Narratives,' supervised by Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali. This study focuses on how the life of ordinary people living in the Indus delta in Pakistan has changed due to the building of the modern irrigration system, dam construction, and the development of water use infrascture in since 1947.
Sekine, Emily Laura, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Unsteady Earth: Predicting Nature's Uncertainties in Post 3.11 Japan,' supervised by Dr. Hugh Raffles
Preliminary abstract: The Japanese archipelago stretches across four major tectonic plates, making it one of the most earthquake-prone areas of the world. But even in a place where tremors are commonplace, the massive 9.0 quake that struck the Tohoku region in March 2011 -- stirring a tsunami and unleashing a nuclear meltdown -- came as a stark reminder of the tremendous capabilities of earthquakes to surprise, to undo previous assumptions, and to destroy and remake worlds. The failure of seismologists to predict this devastating quake has added fuel to long-standing international debates over the possibilities and limits of seismological knowledge. This ethnographic and historical study explores how the uncertainty surrounding earthquakes has made seismology into a field that is remarkably -- if at times begrudgingly -- open to unconventional explanations, methods, and types of evidence. Furthermore, the study considers how people understand earthquakes not only through science, but also through folklore, history, spirituality, public education, popular culture, and observations of strange weather and animal behavior. By asking how earthquake science accommodates everyday knowledge, as well as how non-scientists draw upon various knowledge traditions to make sense of a volatile and inscrutable earth, this research sheds light on how people in Japan actually live with and interpret nature’s uncertainties. Centrally, the project inquires into how the physical instability of the earth might compel and reconfigure practices of observing, sensing, and knowing 'nature' itself. This effort will significantly contribute to anthropological studies of the environment/human-nature relations, as well as studies of Japan, which rarely attend closely to geophysical activity and how it permeates everyday life.
Mahadev, Neena, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Buddhist and Christian Ethical Endeavors: Charitable Works, Conversions, and Unstable Religious Commitments in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
NEENA MAHADEV, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, was awarded funding in October 2008, to aid research on 'Buddhist and Christian Ethical Endeavors: Charitable Works, Conversions, and Unstable Religious Commitments in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. The rise in global Pentecostal Christianity has begun to affect Sri Lanka over recent decades, inciting Buddhist nationalists to revive their efforts to protect against the possibility that Christianity will supplant Buddhism as the majority religion of the country. This research attended to the discourses and practices involved in protecting Theravada Buddhism, as well as to new practices of evangelism and charismatic Christianity in Sri Lanka. The fieldwork considered sub/urban religious landscapes where conversions to charismatic Christianity have been relatively concentrated within certain socioeconomic demographic groups, in contrast to predominantly Buddhist tsunami-affected areas where conversions have been gradual, limited, and dispersed across southern districts. In the crosscut between Buddhist nationalism and Pentecostal evangelism in Sri Lanka, this project took up the following ethnographic tasks: 1) to study the events that have caused a resurgence of exclusivist religious doctrines and practices, exacerbating Buddhist-Christian discord in Sri Lanka; 2) to study the impacts of heightened tensions on Buddhist and Christian institutions and individuals; 3) to gain knowledge about the workings of both harmonious and discordant inter-religious relationships; and 4) to understand how experiences of belonging within families and within village communities did or did not match ideologies of exclusivity promoted by religious authorities.
Holzlehner, Tobias S., U. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK - To aid research on 'Cosmopolitan Xenophobia: Cultural Dynamics of Consumption and Ethnic Interaction in Vladivostok, Russia,' supervised by Dr. Peter P. Schweitzer
TOBIAS HOLZLEHNER, then a student at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, was awarded a grant in December 2003 to aid research on 'Cosmopolitan Xenophobia: Cultural Dynamics of Consumption and Ethnic Interaction in Vladivostok, Russia,' supervised by Dr. Peter P. Schweitzer. Street markets constitute a widely linked and condensed urban space in Vladivostok and are ideal sites to explore the cultural dynamics of ethnic interaction and consumption in a post-Soviet city in the Russian Far East. These markets and the routes to and from them constitute a complex condensed niche economy, where entrepreneurs from China and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus, occupying marked spatial positions, monopolize whole categories of consumer goods, and leave Russian traders on the sidelines. The networks of ethnic entrepreneurs and their condensed appearance in the markets present a surface for projections of xenophobic anxieties. Local discourses about foreign traders suggest the intricate relationships among alien bodies, dangerous substances, and consumption. Yet, the spatial frame of the interethnic encounter, as well as the social and economic symmetry of the relationship, shape its quality. The emergence of cross-border trade and ethnic entrepreneurs after the breakdown of the Soviet Union has given rise to notions of repulsion, but has also created nodes of attraction. New ties and exchange relationships with China, Korea, and Japan have created new economic possibilities. The flow of goods, ideas, and people at this metropolitan periphery of the Russian state has created focal points of interaction. Economic as well as social mobility and the willingness to engage with the other, the central idea underlying the notion of cosmopolitanism, have emerged in Russian Far East discourse as a crucial characteristic for success in coping with the effects of globalization and transnationalism. Economic incentives have emerged as a strong deterrent of xenophobic sentiments.
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.
Snellinger, Amanda Therese, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'The Transfiguration of Political Imaginary: Nepali Student Activism on the National and Transnational Level,' supervised by Dr. David Hines Holmberg
AMANDA SNELLINGER, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, was awarded a grant in May 2006 to aid research on 'The Transfiguration of Political Imaginary: Nepali Student Activism on the National and Transnational Level,' supervised by Dr. David Holmberg. This grant allowed the grantee to complete dissertation fieldwork researching Nepali student activists and student political organizations as a way to understand socialization in Nepali politics. The grantee traveled throughout Nepal attending student organizations' programs and conventions, meeting with students in the south who were agitating for Madheshi rights, and visiting active students outside the capital in order to understand the students' participation within the political landscape nationwide. In Delhi, India research was conducted at the National Archives and Jawalarhal Nehru University, as well as in Varanasi at Banaras Hindu University in order to understand the underground Nepali democratic struggle during the Rana and Panchayat eras (1940-1990) and the 2005 royal takeover. Targeted and informal interviews, archival research, and ethnographic observation focused on the following themes: political elite culture; cultural conceptions of youth and how they are deployed in Nepali politics; generational interaction through the view of mother organizations' (political parties) and sister (student) organizations' relationships; how the history of underground and educational experience in India has impacted activists' and politicians' approach to Nepali politics; how history is politically deployed; conceptual forms of democracy; internal institutional culture; and organizational theory, coalition building and factionalism.
Moerman, Dr. Michael, Nevada City, CA - To aid preparation of personal research materials for archival deposit with the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre at Chiengmai University, Bangkok, Thailand