Walker, Dr. Andrew, Australian National U., Canberra, Australia - To aid research on 'Indigenous Hydrological Knowledge and Dry-Season Agriculture in Upland Catchments of Northern Thailand'
DR. ANDREW WALKER, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, received funding in December 2002 to aid research on 'Indigenous Hydrological Knowledge and Dry-Season Agriculture in Upland Catchments of Northern Thailand.' The objective of this project was to investigate the role of 'indigenous hydrological knowledge' in relation to agricultural decision-making in the dry season in upland areas of northern Thailand. Research was undertaken in two villages in Samoeng district in Chiang Mai province. Overall, there appear to be relatively few local 'indicators' used to estimate the likely supply of water during the dry season. The key indicators are the obvious ones, the level of water in the main water sources. The most important assessments about water supply appear to be made in the early months of the dry season, but often after decisions about cropping have already been made. Local knowledge about hydrological issues appears to be strongly influenced by prevailing state discourse. State agencies regularly assert (using a range of methods, including roadside signs) that reductions in forest cover are the principle cause of hydrological imbalance (dry season water shortage and wet season flooding). These views are regularly repeated in local discussions. The research indicates that dry season agricultural activity is primarily driven by economic factors. Decision-making about the extent of cropping and the choice of crops is influenced primarily by assessments of likely yield and financial return. These assessments are based principally on crop performance in previous years. New crops are initially adopted by innovators and are then adopted more widely if they prove to be successful. Availability of credit is also an important factor.
Lin, Emily Xi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Disability's Star-Children: Autism and the Remaking of Urban China's Moral Order,' supervised by Dr. Stefan Helmreich
EMILY XI LIN, then a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Disability's Star-Children: Autism and the Remaking of Urban China's Moral Order,' supervised by Dr. Stefan Helmreich. This research contributes a multi-sited ethnography of the social life of autism as a psychiatric category in contemporary China. Based on multi-sited ethnography in homes, clinics, autism rehabilitation centers, and philanthropic organizations, the project pays attention to the social meanings and practices of autism caregiving in contemporary China amidst social, educational, and urban-rural healthcare disparities. It is argued that autism illuminates moral crises in three domains: parent-child relations, rural-urban healthcare disparities, and citizens' disquiet with Chinese society's apparent lack of humanity. This thesis investigates how citizens themselves perceive deficiencies in Chinese morality, civility, and scientific literacy, and how these deficiencies are thrown into relief by the needs of autistic persons. While China's biomedical institutions and humanitarian organizations foster novel autism parental practices and ethics in the name of true parental love and scientific modernity, the grantee argues that these efforts shift the burden of care of autistic persons from the state to families, thus increasing the burden of care on rural families in China. In paying attention to how disabled citizens are nurtured or neglected due to choices made by 'good' or 'selfish' parents, findings demonstrate how moral categories are key to post-socialist governmentality-the art, techniques, and practices of governance-in China.
High, Mette M., U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK - To aid 'A Study of Gold Mining, Pastoralism, and Changing Working Lives in Rural Mongolia,' supervised by Dr. Caroline Humphrey
METTE M. HIGH, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, received funding in January 2006 to aid research on 'A Study of Gold Mining, Pastoralism and Changing Working Lives in Rural Mongolia', supervised by Prof. Caroline Humphrey. The research objectives were to understand the practical and cosmological issues that arise for pastoralists when mining comes to occupy a visible social and physical space and presents them with new subsistence opportunities. Fieldwork consisted of 10 months' participant observation and interviews with people who are taking part in the current gold rush as well as herders who distance themselves from the environmentally damaging mining practices. By examining narratives about industrialization and collectivization in the socialist era as well as the recent advent of the gold rush, the research concerned how notions of collectivity, responsibility and individualism were related to transformational historical processes and changing subsistence economies. Focusing on how people reconcile cosmological concepts related to the landscape with working practices that transgress fundamental taboos about the underground and water resources, moral commentaries and discourses of fear and suspicion highlighted people's negotiation of status and social interaction. The research demonstrates that emerging subsistence economies may not only be fuelled by economic incentives but also by particular socio-cultural mechanisms.
High, Mette M. 2013. Polluted Money, Polluted Wealth: Emerging Regimes of Value in the Mongolian Gold Rush. American Ethnologist 40(4):676-688.
High, Mette M. 2013. Cosmologies of Freedom and Buddhist Self-Transformation in the Mongolian Gold Rush. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(4):753-770.
Coelho, Dr. Karen, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid 'Of Engineers, Rationalities, and Rule: An Ethnography of Neoliberal Reform in an Urban Water Utility' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. KAREN COELHO, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in June 2005, to aid research and writing on 'Of Engineers, Rationalities, and Rule: An Ethnography of Neoliberal Reform in an Urban Water Utility.' During the fellowship year, the grantee produced two articles of very different character and style, and for very different audiences. One article was an analysis of the national trends in water sector reforms based on a case study of Chennai's water utility. A second published article explored collective, contentious and transgressive practices of urban citizenship as articulated in claims to water in the city of Chennai. The grantee was able to complete seven of eight chapters for a book manuscript and prospectus that will be sent to various publishing houses.
Coelho, Karen. 2005. The Political Economy of Public Sector Water Utilities Reform. Infochange Agenda, Issue 3. Center for Communication and Development Studies: Chennai.
Coelho, Karen. 2006. Tapping In: Leaky Sovereignties and Engineered Dis(order) in an Urban Water System. SARAI Reader 06. Center for the Study of Developing Societies: New Delhi.
Weir, James M., City U. of New York, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Popular Social Practices in the Context of Conflict: Chess, Music, and Gardening in Herat, Afghanistan,' supervised by Dr. Vincent Crapanzano
JAMES M. WEIR, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received funding in May 2004 to aid research on 'Popular Social Practices in the Context of Conflict: Chess, Music, and Gardening in Herat, Afghanistan,' supervised by Dr. Vincent Crapanzano. This study presents the life stories of five 'ordinary'Afghans and examines the processes of self-presentation and self-identification in these narratives for what they reveal about the speaker's experience of recent Afghan history. This project queries these life stories at two distinctly different levels. The first is an existential/phenomenological reflection on the process of life narration itself. This is an examination of narrators as they engage their memories to spontaneously create a life story and asks what meanings and patterns emerge from this process of remembering, editing, summarizing and representing a life. The second level of examination explores the individual narrator's relationship to and interpretation of the historical and cultural context of his life. In comments interspersed in the text of the actual interviews and at greater length after each interview, this study considers the dispositions and sensibilities of individual Afghans as they recall and summarize their lives, with particular attention to the expectations and disappointments expressed as they recount their experiences of living through three troubled decades of Afghan history.
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.
Maunaguru, Sidharthan, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Brokering Marriage: War, Displacement, and the Production of Futures among Jaffna Tamils,' supervised by Professor Veena Das
SIDHARTHAN MAUNAGURU, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, received a grant in November 2006 to aid research on 'Brokering Marriage: War, Displacement, and the Production of Futures among Jaffna Tamils,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. Three decades of prolonged war in Sri Lanka has devastated the social and economic landscape of Sri Lankan communities, making their lives insecure and disrupting their social relations. Under these conditions of enforced dispersion this research is designed to look at ways in which marriage has emerged as one of the most significant ways by which people are not only moved out of places of insecurity, but also by which people are brought together. Specifically, the project focuses on the role of marriage as a way of building alliances between dispersed members of Tamil communities, and the manner in which these communities secure a future from the fragments of their devastated habitus through marriage. The research has concluded that: 1) in this process, the renewed expertise the marriage broker, in consultation with priests, astrologers and official legal instruments, is a primary character in negotiating these fragments, even as states constantly work to block and prevent the movement of newly married couples across border; and 2) in this process of negotiation traditional categories of kin, family, and marriage are transformed and rearticulated to adjust both to the context of an altered landscape and to the demands of hosting states.
Johari, Radhika, York U, Toronto, Canada -To aid research on 'Endangered Forests, Enterprising Women: The Politics of Conservation and Livelihoods Development Programs in Himachal, India,' supervised by Dr. Shubhra Gururani
RADHIKA JOHARI, then a student at York University, Toronto, Canada, was awarded funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Endangered Forests, Enterprising Women: The Politics of Conservation and Livelihoods Development Programs in Himachal, India,' supervised by Dr. Shubhra Gururani. This doctoral research critically examined how environmental perceptions and practices have been shaped at the interface of past and current paradigms of conservation and resource-based livelihoods development within the recently concluded Indo-German Changar Eco-Development Project in Himachal, India. Adopting a multi-sited ethnographic approach, it has contextualized these articulations of environment and enterprise building within a wider framework of historical and current resource rights and property regimes. It has demonstrated how an increasingly influential paradigm of neoliberal market-centered development has structured project interventions, and how in turn these interventions have been refracted by a deeply entrenched and intersecting politics of knowledge, identity and place. The research identified and explored these points of refraction, for example, within project discourses and practices of knowledge production and valuation and in plantation and livelihoods development strategies. In doing so, it revealed how environmental and entrepreneurial knowledges and practices have intersected with existing social, economic, and political relations, as well as property relations, in ways that have significantly shaped perceptions, norms, and practices around environmental resources. In sum, the research provides a grounded critique of prevailing efforts to converge conservation and resource-based livelihoods and the reasons for their disjunctures in practice.