Lee, Dr. Julian, Monash U., Sunway, Malaysia - To aid workshop on 'New Ethnoscapes of a Cosmopolitan Malaysia,' 2012, U. of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, in collaboration with Dr. Gaik Cheng Khoo
Preliminary Abstract: This workshop aims to bring together international and local scholars and researchers to examine a range of ethnoscapes in the urban Greater Klang Valley, Malaysia, that characterise Malaysia's globalised modernity. The project asks about the possibilities of conceptualising Malaysian multiculturalism as more inclusive, by going beyond the Chinese-Malay-Indian-Dan Lain-Lain (Others) ethnic categories to encompass non-citizens such as migrant workers, refugees, traders, stateless persons, expat spouses, international students and marginalised 'failed subjects' like Orang Asli. The broad scope of the study aims to cover identities from diverse classes, ethnicities, citizenship/country of origin and migration status in order to conceptualise different forms and modes of belonging and home-building; alternative ways of constructing subjectivity and rights for non-citizens with the view of seeing possible cosmopolitan solidarities forged between citizens and non-citizens.
Harris, Christina H., CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid 'On the Trail of the Yak: A Social Geography of Tibetan Trade,' supervised by Dr. Neil Smith
CHRISTINA HONJO HARRIS, then a student at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, New York, received funding in November 2005 to aid 'On the Trail of the Yak: A Social Geography of Tibetan Trade,' supervised by Dr. Neil Smith. This dissertation research examined the past sixty years of social and economic changes along a trade route that crosscuts the eastern Himalayan region. Focusing on two generations of traders in Lhasa, Tibet, Kalimpong, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, the project investigated how infrastructural and political transformations on a larger, regional scale were manifested through three smaller scale, 'everyday' sites of trading activity: 1) The daily acquisition and distribution of material objects, 2) The representation and use of trading spaces, and 3) The facilitation of social and economic networks. In particular, it was found that traders and retailers have produced various kinds of alternative spatial narratives of trade that both take advantage of and counteract major state-centered changes in the economy of the region. In the long-term, the research attempts to contribute to the broader fields of transnational and border studies, placing at its center an explicit conversation between anthropology and geography.
Sethi, Aarti, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Chronicles of Deaths Foretold?: Farmers' Suicides in Chhattisgarh, India,' supervised by Dr. Rosalind Morris
Preliminary abstract: More than a quarter of a million farmers have committed suicide across India since 1995. Since what one report terms the 'largest wave of recorded suicides in human history' (Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, 2011) first received attention in the mid-nineties, the 'farmer's' suicide' has emerged as a potent politically charged symbol for intense public debates on the depredations of neoliberal structural adjustment, and the failures of state and society. Scholarly and activist discourses have attempted to establish causal links between the suicide of farmers and large-scale industrial transformation of agricultural production in the early 1990s. My research focuses on the suicides of farmers in the Durg and Mahasamund districts of Chhattisgarh in order to examine the means by which suicide is transformed from an exceptional occurrence in peasant life, to entering a culturally available repertoire of action. By examining affects and narratives around suicide deaths among cultivars in Mahasamund and Durg on the one hand, and the ways in which the category of the 'farmers' suicide' is energized as the grounds of new political mobilizations against neoliberalism on the other, my project explores the relationship between sociostructural marginality, forms of life and political possibility, under neoliberal precarity.
Setton, Emily Gayong, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Land, Law & Indigenous Media: Building Political Futures in Highland Burma,' supervised by Dr. Annelise Riles
Preliminary abstract: Kachin activists in highland Burma find themselves at a conjuncture of two historic processes: top-down land reform aimed at encouraging foreign investment, and the possible cessation of decades of conflict between ethnic armed groups and the Burma army. My dissertation looks at the ways in which Kachin activists, and the armed group leaders they work with, anticipate and bring into being a political future after peace, through a vision of federalism simultaneously rooted in the past and grounded in the tenuous realities of the present. My research will examine their involvement in two related political practices that bring to light ongoing ecological and cultural dispossession: the making of autonomous 'customary' land law, and the production of indigenous media. Through 15 months of ethnographic research, my project seeks to understand the ways in which Kachin activists draw upon indigenous political ideologies and ontologies of land, alongside outside discourses of sovereignty and human rights, in flexible ways that configure new assemblages of land and media.
Mason, Katherine Anne, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'After SARS: An Ethnography of Public Health Campaigns in South China,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman
KATHERINE MASON, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in May 2008 to aid research on 'After SARS: An Ethnography of Public Health Campaigns in South China,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman. With this project, the researcher examined the lived experiences of public health professionals in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, China, following the SARS epidemic of 2003, with the goal of answering the question, 'How do national and global discourses of moral duty, together with personal career ambition, shape the moral experiences of Chinese public health professionals after SARS?' Ethnographic research was conducted at the Shenzhen City Center for Disease Control and Prevention (SZ CDC) between September 2008 and August 2009, with supplementary research conducted at the SZ CDC, the Sun Yat-Sen University School of Public Health in Guangzhou, and other public health institutions and schools in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Beijing between 2007 and 2010. Research methods included intensive participant observation at the SZ CDC, as well as informal, semi-structured, and life-history interviews with over 100 public health professionals and public health students in all four cities. The data collected was used to provide the primary data for a dissertation entitled, 'After SARS: The Rebirth of Public Health in China's 'City of Immigrants,'' with a prospective defense date of April 2011.
Huang, Dr. Yu, Chinese U. of Hong Kong, Hong Kong - To aid engaged activities on 'Promoting Sustainable Shrimp Aquaculture through Rural Co-operatives,' 2013, China
DR. YU HUANG, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, was awarded a grant in August 2012 to aid research on 'Promoting Sustainable Shrimp Aquaculture through Rural Co-operatives.' Shrimp farmers in south China have strived to become 'science-savvy' farmers in their pursuit of high yields. As they use various 'inputs' to boost productivity, they see their profits squeezed away by agro-capital that monopolizes the upstream sector of credits and inputs for shrimp juveniles, compound feed, aeration machines, and shrimp pharmaceuticals, and the downstream sector of processing, marketing, and sales. In summer 2013, the grantee mobilized some farmers to form aquaculture co-operatives to increase their bargaining power with agribusinesses and practice democratic decision-making, as well as conduct a trial experiment for ecological farming. The grantee also took some cooperative members to join a training workshop in a famous cooperative called 'Puhan Rural Community' in Shanxi Province, China. The Community dispatches a large team of community coordinators (fudaoyuan) that maintains a close relation with cooperative members. In the spirit of 'from the masses, to the masses,' the Community seeks to serve the needs of members rather than profiting from them. This Engaged Anthropology project has inspired the grantee to think about how anthropologists can apply their knowledge for social change, whose next ethnographic study will explore issues related to action research, rural co-operatives, and food sovereignty in China.
Cook, Ian Michael, Central European U., Budapest, Hungary - To aid research on 'The City as a River: A Rhythmanalysis of Mangalore,' supervised by Dr. Daniel Monterescu
IAN M. COOK, then a student at Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, received a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'The City as a River: A Rhythmanalysis of Mangalore,' supervised by Dr. Daniel Monterescu. This project proposes a novel approach to the anthropology of time and space through a relational inquiry into the practical rhythms of urban life -- rhythms that mediate and constitute realities in urban India. The research folds class and power into urban spaces and times by embedding the inquiry in everyday life. India's ongoing rapid urbanization, in part linked to the economic liberalization begun in the mid-1980s, is producing a multitude of overlapping rhythms that open up both possibilities and constraints for urban dwellers across the country. The proposed research examines how the river-like rhythms 'dress' a city's inhabitants and, in doing so, increase and diminish opportunities to exercise 'urban agency.' The research argues that the (in)ability to harness the city's rhythms, which leads to greater and lesser degrees of urban-agency, rests upon certain combinations of repetition and difference. Research was conducted amongst moving vendors, auto rickshaw drivers, and housing agents. These groups are a means through which to understand the city more generally -- though necessarily partially -- from the bottom up; to explore how their many different rhythms combine and contrast with the wider rhythms of the city.
Zharkevich, Ina, U. of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Generation, Gender and Change in the Maoist Base Areas of Nepal during the Conflict and its Aftermath,' supervised by Dr. David Gellner
INA ZHARKEVICH, then a student at University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Generation, Gender and Change in the Maoist Base Areas of Nepal during the Conflict and its Aftermath,' supervised by Dr. David Gellner. The fieldwork was carried out in the village of Thabang, hailed as the capital of the Maoist base areas during the war. The findings of the fieldwork suggest that the 'people's war' has reconfigured key hierarchies along which Nepali society was organized - that of caste, gender and generation. However, the old hierarchies were subverted not only due to the spread of Maoist ideology, but also due to the processes engendered by the situation of war -- the exodus of able-bodied men who either joined the Maoists or migrated abroad, the concurrent feminization of villages, and inevitable change in the gender and generational structure of society. While the 'people's war' had a clear generational dimension, these were predominantly unmarried youth who joined the rebels -- pointing towards the importance of the moral economy of marriage and kinship for understanding the Maoist mobilization campaign and broader social processes during the war. The fact that such practices as beef-eating and inter-caste commensality, considered as a serious transgression in the once Hindu Kingdom of Nepal, endure in post-conflict environment testifies that the 'people's war' undermined Hindu ideology as the basis of the moral order in Nepal and introduced new ideas about morality grounded in the Maoist discourse of equality and progress.