Zhu, Jiangang, Chinese U. of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China - To aid research on 'Shanghai Lilong Neighborhood: An Ethnography of Civil Associations and Social Movements,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Bosco
JIANGANG ZHU, while a student at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China, was awarded a grant in August 2001 to aid research on 'Shanghai Lilong Nieghborhood: An Ethnography of Civil Associations and Social Movements,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Bosco. This research explored the civil associations and community movements in a lilong neighborhood in Shanghai since the 1980s. The central question was how these civil associations and social movements interact with neighborhood residents and with the local government in Shanghai. In order to answer this question, a neighborhood named Pingming Village was selected for ethnographic fieldwork.
Data was collected by doing volunteer work for the neighborhood committee, by participating in several community movements against the local government or real estate developers, and by becoming involved in several voluntary organizations. In one case, residents protested against a skyscraper that would hide the sunlight from older buildings. Residents protested to the developer, complained to the local government, and organized themselves to defend their rights. Though the study of protest movements in China is a sensitive issue, community issues at the local level are not seen as political but as 'social' problems. Long-term residence in the community permitted research on these movements, and leaders were glad to provide materials and to be interviewed to publicize their struggle. The research showed how state power penetrated into neighborhood life and how resistance in the community was intertwined with this state penetration. Some of the movements successfully fought state bureaus, but only by depoliticizing their actions and allying themselves with other state bureaus. Because of the limits imposed by state hegemony, these associations and collective actions cannot build an independent civil society. However, they weave relations of trust, create networks of engagement, and improve the norm of reciprocity. When democratization is on the agenda these civil associations and movements may provide the social capital for this transformation.
Srivastava, Dr. Sanjay, Deakin U., Melbourne, Australia - To aid workshop on 'In Relation To. New Cultures of Intimacy and Togetherness in Asia,' 2009, New Delhi, India, in collaboration with Dr. Brinda Bose
'New Cultures of Intimacy and Togetherness in Asia'
February 5-7, 2009, Nehru Memorial Library, Delhi, India
Organizers: Sanjay Srivastava (Deakin University) and Brinda Bose (University of Delhi)
This conference sought to initiate an interdisciplinary dialogue between anthropologists and those working in areas such as gender studies, film/media studies, popular culture, and urban studies in order to explore emerging cultures of intimacies and friendship in contemporary non-Western contexts. It was held on the premises of the Nehru Memorial Library and Museum in Delhi. Countries represented included China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, as well as scholars from the United Kingdom and United States. There was wide ranging discussion over the three days on a diverse range of topics. These included intimacies and new forms of public transport in India, urban queer cultures in Delhi, sexualities and the public sphere in Thailand, non-heterosexual intimacy in contemporary Indonesian cinema, 'informal' marriages in Indonesia, transvestite cultures in Burma, and the marriage-brokering business in Taiwan. The diverse background of the
audience—anthropologists, sociologists, historians, literature specialists, media scholars, and representatives from NGOs—also enhanced the nature of the interaction. January is a 'conference-heavy' month in Delhi; however, notwithstanding several competing engagements, attendance on all days of the event was extremely high (60 to 70 persons). The organizers are negotiating with Routledge for publication of conference proceedings.
Morton, Micah Francis, U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'Negotiating the Changing Zomia of Mainland Southeast Asia: Akha Identitarian Politics,' supervised by Dr. Katherine A. Bowie
MICAH F. MORTON, then a student at University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Negotiating the Changing Zomia of Mainland Southeast Asia: Akha Indentitarian Politics,' supervised by Dr. Katherine A. Bowie. Between June 2011 and May 2012, the researcher conducted twelve months of fieldwork with certain members of the Akha indigenous group in Thailand who are involved in efforts to promote a more formal sense of belonging among Akha throughout the Upper Mekong Region - including East Burma, Southwest China, Northwest Laos and North Thailand. It was found that a growing number of Akha are participating in various activities being arranged as part of the movement and that a cross-border sense of belonging is developing. These activities ranged from Akha literacy training workshops to cultural festivals and formal meetings held to discuss how to go about preserving and modifying 'traditional' Akha culture. It was further found, however, that the cross-border sense of belonging that is developing exists beneath the various national level senses of belonging that different Akha communities have depending upon their particular country of residence. In short, Akha in Thailand for the most part see themselves as being Thai first and foremost and members of an international Akha community only second. Last, it was found that the cultural and linguistic emphasis of the movement fails to address the more practical concerns faced by the general Akha community.
Kadirgamar, Ahilan Arasaratnam, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York NY - To aid research on 'Households, Caste, Class, Land and Post-war Reconstruction in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Michael Blim
AHILAN A. KADIRGAMAR, then a graduate student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Households, Caste, Class, Land and Post-war Reconstruction in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Michael Blim. In May 2009, a three-decade-long civil war came to an end in Sri Lanka. In the post-war years a process of reconstruction characterized by state infrastructure development, financialization, and the expansion of the market has been underway. This study looks at rural livelihoods and changes to the social structure of Jaffna, the war-torn, predominantly Tamil district in northern Sri Lanka. How has the process of reconstruction impacted incomes related to the land and agricultural production in Jaffna? What is the relationship between faltering agricultural incomes and widespread indebtedness to out migration and remittances? In analyzing the household economy, this study addresses issues of caste stratification and class differentiation after the war. It further analyzes the economic pressures on rural social associations such as cooperatives and the new forms social exclusion relating to rural education. This study is important for understanding the dispossession of the peasantry, common to so many places in the global South ravaged by armed conflicts and going through rapid global integration.
Deutsch, Cheryl Lynn, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'The Traffic of Desire: Economic Growth, Environmental Sustainability, and Transportation Planning in Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Keith Murphy
Preliminary abstract: In a recent decision, Delhi's High Court directly challenged the car culture of India's growing middle class. Striking down a lawsuit brought by car-owners against a new bus system in the capital city, the Court argued: 'A developed country is not one where the poor own cars. It is one where the rich use public transport.' The Court's decision gave a go-ahead to convert over 300 kilometers of vehicle lanes into bus-only corridors along the city's congested road network and reflects a shift in thinking about urban development away from consumer culture and towards environmental sustainability. Transportation planners now face the challenge of implementing this new Bus Rapid Transit system and, with it, re-engineering the car culture of Delhi's middle class. Through one year of ethnographic research with Delhi's transportation planners, this project will bring to light the contestations at work in changing conceptions of development through infrastructures of mobility.
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 V. 2013. Jinnealogy: Everyday Life and Islamic Theology in Post-Partition Delhi. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3 (3):139-65.
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.
Pant, Ketaki, Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'Homes of Capital: Merchants and Mobility in the Indian Ocean,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho
Preliminary abstract: This dissertation project is concerned with the long history of Gujarati merchant mobility in the Indian Ocean. While scholars of globalization have considered the movement of global capital as a new phenomenon, this project studies the itinerant merchant--historically engaged in the long-distance oriented textile trade--as an early iteration of the global capitalist. Merchant homes, which also function as warehouses, workshops and offices, are central to these networks, and historically connected the textile trade from its point of origin in the interior to the shores of the Indian Ocean. These homes, and descendents of merchant families within them, continue to exist today and allow me to ethnographically study how a history of merchant mobility, coordinated through the home, continues to persist in contemporary society. In studying Gujarati merchant networks from its interiors, this project analyzes how kinship and religious networks, routed through the home, are central to capital mobility. I am concerned therefore with how a seemingly stationary space--the home--helps us to understand the flow of capital across an oceanic space. In analyzing this dynamic of enclosed mobility this project seeks to demonstrate that unlike the contemporary multinational corporation, which though independent of, operates under the umbrella of imperial states and their mobile armies, Gujarati merchants, through a long history, have protected capital without the use of force and the help of a strong state.
Pant, Ketaki. 2014. Gujarat's 'Rangoon Wallas.' Himal Southasian. Published online.
Kikon, Dolly, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Blurred Borders: Unsettling the Hill/Valley Divide in Northeast India,' supervised by Dr. James G. Ferguson
DOLLY KIKON, then a student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, was awarded a grant in October 2009, to aid research on 'Blurred Borders: Unsettling the Hill/Valley Divide in Northeast India,' supervised by Dr. James G. Ferguson. Hill and valley occupy a critical place in the development of anthropological theory of societies in the eastern Himalayan region. Constructions of social histories and political identities have followed colonially created categories of hill and valley since the nineteenth century, and differences between the topographic locations have been the basis of organizing territorial borders in the region. This is most pronounced in Northeast India, where federal units often have internal borders that mime practices of international borders and where postcolonial legislation has been grafted onto colonial systems of governance. The research objective is to study how hill/valley spatial categories continue to influence and sustain historically contentious borders, laws, and citizenship regimes in Nagaland and Assam in Northeast India.