Ahlin, Brinton R., New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Hydraulic Civilization: Water, Shrines, and States in Central Asia,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Grant
Preliminary abstract: The transformation of water into cotton, electricity, and a running tap via large-scale infrastructure systems is fundamental to local understandings of the state in Central Asia. This research ethnographically investigates the relationship between these transformative capacities of water infrastructure and the role of water in shaping personal lives at a ritual pilgrimage site and natural spring in southern Tajikistan. I focus on these otherworldly sites of transformation as a way of rethinking conventional accounts of infrastructure that privilege its technical and material qualities while inadvertently reproducing understandings of it as a this-worldly object. Central to this endeavor is a concern with the alternative ways in which knowledge about infrastructure is produced across different contexts. My hypothesis is that the capacities of holy water at the shrine to enact a diverse range of Central Asian dreams for fertility, prosperity, or tranquility provide a powerful parallel lens through which many Tajiks make sense of the complex social lives of Central Asian states.
Tidwell, Tawni Lynn, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Transmitting Diagnostic Skills in Tibetan Medicine: Embodied Practices for Indigenous Categories of Cancer,' supervised by Dr. Carol Worthman
Preliminary abstract: Tibetan medical diagnostics for indigenous categories of cancer provide a lens for understanding embodied expertise among Tibetan physicians. This diagnostic repertoire is comprised of pulse diagnosis, urinalysis and other embodied practices of illness recognition trained in tactile and sensory capacities of the physician. This investigation of Tibetan medical diagnosis as it is formally transmitted, cultivated, and clinically deployed, will track the system in action and open a gateway to understanding the epistemological underpinnings of Tibetan conceptions of pathology and treatment. The focus on cancer is strategic: as the nosological categories in which Tibetan medical and western biomedical systems most closely overlap, it opens a space for analyzing features of the two systems for diagnosis and care. As the first western student in the premier Tibetan medical school, this investigator will work with students, faculty and expert physicians to document how diagnostic skills are transmitted, cultivated and applied, with particular regard to cancer. This project is poised to contribute substantive insights into distinctive ways of 'reading' and caring for the body, the place for embodied practices in medical expertise, the significance of knowledge transmission processes for embodied skill, and the role of such skills in translating formal knowledge domains into application.
Peche, Linda Ho, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Constructing Self and Spirit: Home Altars and the Articulation of Vietnamese American Subjectivities,' supervised by Dr. Pauline Turner Strong
LINDA HO PECHE, then a student at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Constructing Self and Spirit: Home Altars and the Articulation of Vietnamese American Subjectivities,' supervised by Dr. Pauline Turner Strong. This project is about spiritual connection -- how the 'spiritual' is accessed, experienced and/or transformed in the materiality of everyday life for Vietnamese Americans. The context is a community envisioning itself emerging from war and refugee flight as well as grounding itself as truly American. Specifically, this project examines Vietnamese American home altars and shrines as social spaces where cultural, religious and political ideologies are experienced and expressed. It seeks to explore how religious experiences inform and are produced by a kind of 'spirit' of a community, addressed not through some static notion of 'identity' but, instead, as constituted (and continually re-constituted) through expressive practices. With this approach, the 'spirit' and 'spiritualities' of Vietnamese America are fulfilled through experience rather than revealed in a holistic sense. What emerges is a shifting and negotiated spectrum of belief and practice, navigated both through an exploration of different spiritual/spatial landscapes and collective diasporic imaginaries.
Kleyna, Mark A., Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Spectacles of the Modern: Technology, Development, and the Imagination of the Indian Nation, 1947-1965,' supervised by Dr. Nicholas B. Dirks
Gandhi, Ajay, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'The Banality of Criminality: The Moral Economy of Illegal Behavior in Delhi, India,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Blom Hansen
AJAY GANDHI, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'The Banality of Criminality: The Moral Economy of Illegal Behaviour in Delhi, India', supervised by Dr. Thomas Blom Hansen. Fieldwork was conducted over 18 months in India, on the changing urban landscape in Delhi's old city, 'Shahjahanabad.' The project consisted of both archival and ethnographic research, and was divided into three main components. First, the grantee conducted archival research at municipal offices and research libraries, supplemented by interviews with planning officials, politicians and the police. These activities furthered the comprehension of state intervention in this area since Indian independence in 1947, including periods of heavy-handed policing, building demolitions, and displacement of residents, under the rubric of population control and urban beautification. Second, participant observation and interviews were conducted with migrant laborers from the countryside who work in large wholesale bazaars and labour camps. This allowed for an understanding of the informal economic practices and illicit trades prevalent amongst a floating population of the urban poor, as well as forms of popular leisure and consumption that have resulted in the plebianization of urban space. Third, interviews were carried out with lower-middle class and working class Muslims who are long-standing residents of 'slum' enclaves within Delhi's old city. This allowed the grantee to grasp everyday understandings of legitimacy and representation articulated in dealings with municipal authorities and the police, as well as ethical predicaments spawned by urban segregation and community fragmentation.
Bauer, Kenneth M., Oxford U., Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Land Use Change and Socio-Economic Transformations among Nomads in Porong, Central Tibet,' supervised by Dr. Laura M. Rival
KENNETH M. BAUER, then a student at Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in September 2003 to aid research on 'Land Use Change and Socio-Economic Transformations among Nomads in Porong, Central Tibet,' supervised by Dr. Laura M. Rival. This field research investigated land use change and the impacts of government development policies among Tibetan pastoralists during the second half of the twentieth century. This work describes and analyzes the rhetoric and implementation of development policies by the Chinese government in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). This history of land use dynamics, socio-economic change, and policy phases, is grounded in a case study of Porong Township (Nyelam County, Shigatse Prefecture, TAR, PRC). The grantee gathered several kinds of evidence, which will be interpreted using a multi-disciplinary approach. Support enabled the grantee to collect and translate historical texts describing land use and to interview pastoralists, government agents, and NGO workers, as well as work with local pastoralists to map historical and contemporary pasture boundaries.
Walker, Christopher, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Social Life of Open-Source Software in Tibet,' supervised by Dr. John D. Kelly
CHRISTOPHER E. WALKER, while a student at the University of Chicago, was awarded a grant in August 2003 to research the social conditions of Tibetan language software development, under the supervision of Dr. John D. Kelly. Central to the research was a study of the Tibetan block of 'Unicode,' the de facto standard for encoding the world's natural languages in computer systems. More than a decade ago, Tibet University in Lhasa (China) played a central role in this emergent and powerful standard. This feat has been celebrated by the Chinese press, which often highlights any state support of science and technology within minority areas. Curiously, however, the study of more recent technical proposals and computer projects involving Tibetan language reveal that China has mixed reactions to the very standard it helped create. Contrary to the philosophy of Unicode, namely that every language should have only one set of codes, China has recently used the 'private use area' of Unicode to define a second, competing standard for Tibetan. The official reasons given for creating two standards for Tibetan language are mainly technical and pragmatic. A deeper analysis has revealed that economic pressure, educational background, and the social environment play a pivotal role in the development of Tibetan information technology in China.