Chien, Jennifer, Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Development in China,' supervised by Dr. Ralph Litzinger
JENNIFER CHIEN, then a student at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Development in China,' supervised by Dr. Ralph Litzinger. From September 2010 to July 2011, this research investigated the forms of collective identities emerging within migrant communities along with the phenomenon of Corporate Social Responsibility or 'CRS' in Beijing, China. Research findings gathered from participant observation as a volunteer with three different social organizations engaged in CSR partnerships showed the following: 1) the solidification of a 'migrant' identity and culture; 2) distinct divergences in how 'migrant' and 'community' are conceived of by different CSR partners; 3) the basis of these divergences as two different principles of integration and scission,; 4) the social impact of CSR grasped at the level of socialized production; and 5) the importance of culture as a site of antagonism. These research findings helped to address the following research questions: How is CSR reconfiguring forms of collective identity in China, and what political claims are enabled or precluded within its discourses and practices? How do migrants in China, associated with agricultural or factory production, affect a global economy increasingly driven by cultural and informational production? How does 'community' as code for forms of common production become both desirable and risky for business practice?
Sood, Anubha, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Women's Help-Seeking Pathways: Global Policy, the State and Mental Health Practices in India,' supervised by Dr. Rebecca J. Lester
ANUBHA SOOD, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, received a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'Women's Help-Seeking Pathways: Global Policy, the State and Mental Health Practices in India,' supervised by Dr. Rebecca J. Lester. This research project investigated the help-seeking pathways of women experiencing mental distress in urban North India. In India's medically plural landscape (which includes myriad treatment options), mystical-spiritual healing practices based on ideas of supernatural affliction are believed to hold special expertise for treating mental disorders, and are especially popular among women. However, the Indian state endorses biomedical psychiatry, a less commonly sought option among women, as the only legitimate mental health system for the country and denounces magico-religious healing as superstitious and inimical to the women seeking such treatment. The study investigated what distinct appeal these two systems of mental health care held for women and what might women's engagements with these systems reveal about how state discourses shape women's health concerns. The research was conducted among women, their families and the psychiatrists/healers in a public health psychiatric facility in Delhi and a popular Hindu healing temple in the neighboring state of Rajasthan. The two field settings were carefully chosen based on an overlapping population of attendees similar in socio-demographic and socioeconomic profile visiting the two sites. The project was carried out over the period of July-December 2009 and involved participant observation and person-centered interviewing, semi-structured and unstructured interviewing as the primary methods of research.
Michaels, Ben Justin, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Team Tibet: Soccer as the Performance of Human Rights in the Transnational Tibetan Exile Community,' supervised by Dr. Marvin Sterling
BEN J. MICHAELS, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Team Tibet: Soccer as the Performance of Human Rights in the Transnational Tibetan Exile Community,' supervised by Dr. Marvin Sterling. For this phase of research, ethnographic fieldwork was carried out in Dharamsala/Mcleod Ganj, India, which is the seat of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the major hub of Tibetan exile life. 2011 became a historic year for the transnational Tibetan exile community as the Dalai Lama announced his retirement from political life and handed over leadership of the Tibetan Government in Exile to an elected prime minister. This marked the next major step in the materialization of his long-envisioned process of Tibetan democratization and emboldened a new generation of politically active Tibetans to embrace their democratic right to disagree with their leaders. Acknowledging dissent as an essential element of the democratic process, this study examines the social mechanisms by which dissenting opinions are either muted at the local level or propagated and allowed to evolve into transnational social movements able to transcend spatial and political boundaries. At the same time, this research highlights some of the generational gaps in social and political views as young Tibetans, raised and educated in exile, use the emergence of new and globally accessible communicative media to express and circulate new ideas throughout the Tibetan world.
Ibrahim, Amrita, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on ''Truth on Our Lips, India in Our Hearts' Television News and Affective Publics in Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
AMRITA IBRAHIM, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, received a grant in October 2008 to aid research on ''Truth on Our Lips, India in Our Hearts:' Television News and Affective Publics in Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. Television news in India is characterized by an excess of audio, visual, and narrative tropes that draw from popular film, pulp fiction, and mythology. As a form of storytelling that borrows from and builds on these, news also circulates among its audiences in everyday conversation, rumor, and gossip. These forms of talk often find their way into the news as 'sources' in themselves. During 18 months of fieldwork, the grantee observed the inner workings of three news studios, interviewed channel heads, production teams, and reporters and also followed selected stories into the neighborhoods where they had occurred. This dissertation explores how the line between fiction and fact is negotiated in India's television news through three field encounters: first, the television news crime genre that builds on themes from Hindi film and pulp fiction; second, the force of rumor in shaping the contours of a news story in the studio and also among local residents; and third, the unexpected appeal of reality television as a form of news. The study will attempt to show how the repetitive loop of visuals, music, and narrative enhances the affective intensity of news stories such that they become forces, among others, in the constitution of contemporary public culture.
Ibrahim, Amrita, 2013. Who is a Bigger Terrorist than the Police? Photography as a Politics of Encounter in Delhi's Batla House. South Asian Culture 11(2):133-144.
Ibrahim, Amrita. 2012. Voyeurism and Family on Television. In Cambridge Companion to Modern Indian Culture. Vasudha Dalmia and Rashmi Sadana, eds. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
Cortesi, Luisa, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Living in Floods: Knowledges and Technologies of Disastrous Waters in North Bihar, India,' supervised by Dr. Michael Dove
Preliminary abstract: How do people in rural north Bihar, India, live and make sense of water in a landscape periodically destroyed by floods? The proposed study draws on environmental anthropology, disaster studies and science and technology studies, to trace how water-related knowledge(s) are deployed in everyday practices, and mediated by technologies, in a frequently flooded environment where people live in, and often die from, water. This query enables an ethnographic perspective on wider debates about human knowledge and adaptation in conditions of rapid environmental change and specifically on the ways in which rural inhabitants react to environmental disasters drawing on cultural resources such as local knowledge and networks, as well as technologies of water management. The proposed ethnography combines an epistemological analysis of life in a disastrous waterscape with the close observation of pragmatic responses to waterborne disasters to reveal complex forms of articulation between dynamic ecologies, water-related practices, environmental knowledges, and technological choices.
Taneja, Anand Vivek, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Sacred as History: Jinns and Justice in the Ruins of Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Partha Chatterjee
ANAND VIVEK TANEJA, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2009 to aid research on 'The Sacred as History: Jinns and Justice in the Ruins of Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Partha Chatterjee. This research is concerned with contemporary ritual practices around medieval Islamic ruins in Delhi. Many of these sacralized ruins are those of 'secular' buildings, not intended to be places of worship - palaces, dams, hunting lodges. The grantee argues that the sacredness of these ruins can be understood through an alternate ontology and epistemology linked both to the Islamic tradition, and to the massive disruptions and dislocations that have characterized everyday life in Delhi over the past hundred years. Through this research, the grantee argues for understanding the sacred as history, understanding these terms to be co-constitutive rather than antithetical. The emphasis on alternate epistemologies also offers a way of understanding relations between religiously defined communities beyond the usual approaches of secularism and tolerance. This research explored the understanding of Islam among non-Muslims who come to these ruins, and argues for the idea of Islam not as an identity, but as a remembered way of being, linked to pre-modern ideas of justice and ethics, and with powers of healing across confessional divides.
Taneja, Anand Vivek. 2012. Saintly Visions: Other Histories and History's Others in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi. Indian Economic and Social History Review. 49(4):557-590.
Nygaard-Christensen, Dr. Maj, U. of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark - To aid research on 'Policy in the Thick of Politics: Democracy Promotion in Timor-Leste'
Preliminary Abstract: Through fieldwork during Timor-Leste's 2012 national elections, the project will focus on the practices and imaginaries of 'democracy promoters' - a collective reference to foreign political advisors, experts and observers. Since its separation from Indonesia in 1999, Timor-Leste came regularly to be described as a 'laboratory of democracy' - a reference to the UN-led international intervention's experiments with new approaches to state-building and democratization in connection with the small Southeast Asian half-island's transition to independence. This project however, takes its starting point with the observation that democracy promotion projects are not implemented in 'laboratories' or political vacuums, but in the thick of local political life. In continuation of this, the key research question guiding the project is: how do foreign democracy promoters navigate in and position themselves within the charged political contexts and affective atmospheres of the post-conflict nation? A guiding hypothesis is that democracy promoters are positioned awkwardly between policy (the stated goals of foreign donors) and practice (implementation of these by individuals and organizations) since implementation of such projects take place in complex political contexts not accounted for in formal donor policy formulations. The objective is to contribute with empirical knowledge on political life in the post-conflict 'intervention state' and theoretically to an emerging anthropology of democracy. The broader framework of the analysis will be the 2012 national elections, which coincide with the ten-year anniversary of independence, and possible downscaling of the international presence.
Kantor, Hayden Seth, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Embodied Virtues: Local Strategies of Agricultural Production and Food Consumption in Bihar, India,' supervised by Dr. Stacey Langwick
Preliminary abstract: With increases in both food prices and crop yields, small-scale farmers in Bihar, India now experience the paradox of being unable to adequately support their families even as they produce more food. The recent introduction of Green Revolution agricultural practices to impoverished areas of the country has boosted rural incomes. Yet rapid food inflation has contributed to persistently high rates of malnutrition among poor households. Indebted farmers who increasingly grow commodity crops must rely on less nutritious government-subsidized staples for their household consumption. My project investigates how small-scale farmers negotiate this contradiction in the everyday activities of growing and eating food. I pose three connected questions that I will answer through ethnographic and archival research: First, how do agricultural and nutritional programs not only impact what farmers produce and consume, but also reconfigure the roles and responsibilities associated with growing and preparing food? Second, how do broader political economic formations reshape farmers' pleasures and ethics, and how do those experiences inform the ways they engage with these structural conditions? Third, how do villagers' food practices express an ethos of self-cultivation and care for others, and how do these values vary according to gender, age, class, and caste?
Douglas, Aimee Catherine, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Craft, Creativity, and Managing the 'Excesses of Modernity' in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Viranjini Munasinghe
Preliminary abstract: As tourism flourishes and opportunities for export grow following the end of Sri Lanka's thirty-year war in 2009, the country's heritage craft industry, though a small segment of its economy, has enjoyed unprecedented growth. While the Ministry of Industry & Commerce reports on the generation of 'new market links for our artisans,' dealers remark with delight on the (mostly foreign) buyers flooding into their shops. The proposed research will focus on one corner of this industry, the production of decorative handloom textiles, and on how a discourse of 'creativity' serves within it as a strategy through which industry participants evaluate, struggle against, and come to terms with their own and others' positions within a globalized economic field. This discourse is situated among calls by government officials, scholars and others for investment in Sri Lanka's so-called 'creative economy.' I approach the handloom industry in which it figures so prominently to examine how, in a context of post-war, government-led efforts toward economic integration into global capital markets, ordinary Sri Lankans fashion themselves in relation to one another and to variously imagined national, global and other collectivities. In doing so, I join recent efforts in anthropology to challenge conventional notions of creativity often deployed in social science analyses. In order to capture a wide range of voices (weavers, dealers, designers, and government and NGO officials) while attending to relationships between participants, I will carry out ethnographic research in three locations among individuals involved (to varying degrees) in the textile production activities of Thalagune, a Sinhalese village in Sri Lanka's Central Province.